The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dundee Township has a new name, a new route and a new mission.
This year's parade, and others that follow, will be called The Thom McNamee Memorial St. Patrick's Day Parade of Dundee. Instead of running through East Dundee only, the route will include West Dundee as well. And instead of just marching in it or watching it, spectators are encouraged to bring with them nonperishable food that will be donated to the local FISH Food Pantry.
The parade now bears the name of its founder, a longtime Dundee Township resident and business owner. Kevin Combest, one of three organizers, said the change is only fitting for the person who founded the parade five years ago and contributed so much to Dundee Township.
The first St. Patrick's Day Parade included a handful of business owners and a route solely in East Dundee.
This year, the parade will start at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 12, at the intersection of Second and West Main streets in West Dundee.
Marchers will walk east to North River Street in East Dundee and proceed to Barrington Avenue. Then, they will walk to Water Street and end at Rosie O'Hare's Tavern, a business McNamee owned until he died of cancer in June 2010.
He also owned Bandito Barney's Beach Club along North River Street.
"Thom was Irish, and he was very fond of the work the FISH pantry does to feed people in the area," Combest said. "There's going to be collection boxes along the parade route so people can deposit their food in them."
Food and monetary donations will be given to St. Catherine of Siena Church, which will turn the items over to the Carpentersville-based pantry, Combest said.
"The theme of the drive is think globally and do locally," Combest said.
The parade has already attracted the attention of a long list of marchers, he added. Local and state politicians are expected to be part of it, as are local pipe bands, the Dundee Scots marching bands and police officers and firefighters.
"We're hoping for good weather. In the past five years, we've marched in 70-degree weather, snow, rain; it's been interesting," Combest said.
For more information about the parade, call (847) 426-7300.