Spectators flock to suburban St. Patrick's Day parades

 
 
Updated 3/16/2019 4:33 PM
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  • Mia Green of Lake Villa lets the candy fly as her dad Neil drives the tractor in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Lake Villa on Saturday.

      Mia Green of Lake Villa lets the candy fly as her dad Neil drives the tractor in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Lake Villa on Saturday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • A group of girls with candy bags lines the curb as they watch the West Suburban Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade in Naperville Saturday.

      A group of girls with candy bags lines the curb as they watch the West Suburban Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade in Naperville Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • From their front porch, Rita, left, and Mike Brzezinski, judge the entries in the Paint the Town Green St. Patrick's Day parade in Palatine.

      From their front porch, Rita, left, and Mike Brzezinski, judge the entries in the Paint the Town Green St. Patrick's Day parade in Palatine. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Three-year old Quinn Dean readies Saturday for the Paint the Town Green parade in Palatine.

      Three-year old Quinn Dean readies Saturday for the Paint the Town Green parade in Palatine. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Somewhere there is a leprechaun crying because Kevin Kruzkeberg, village trustee for Lake Villa, stole his outfit as he shows off his threads at Lake Villa's St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday.

      Somewhere there is a leprechaun crying because Kevin Kruzkeberg, village trustee for Lake Villa, stole his outfit as he shows off his threads at Lake Villa's St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Taylor Freese, 8, enjoys bagpipers Saturday during the Paint the Town Green parade in Palatine.

      Taylor Freese, 8, enjoys bagpipers Saturday during the Paint the Town Green parade in Palatine. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Bagpipers from the Firefighters Highland Guard of Naperville play during the West Suburban Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade in Naperville Saturday.

      Bagpipers from the Firefighters Highland Guard of Naperville play during the West Suburban Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade in Naperville Saturday. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Kevin Doyle of Homer Glen watches the West Suburban Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday in Naperville with his family, including his grandson, Brendan Doyle, 4, of Naperville.

      Kevin Doyle of Homer Glen watches the West Suburban Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday in Naperville with his family, including his grandson, Brendan Doyle, 4, of Naperville. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Ashley Pollard of Round Lake watches Lake Villa's St. Patrick's Day parade roll by as it is reflected in her green sunglasses on Saturday.

      Ashley Pollard of Round Lake watches Lake Villa's St. Patrick's Day parade roll by as it is reflected in her green sunglasses on Saturday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

A wave of green washed over Chicago and the suburbs Saturday with thousands attending St. Patrick's Day parades in communities from Naperville north to Lake Villa and points between.

The family-friendly events featured a variety of floats, local dignitaries, bagpipers, dancers and Irish music, and the strong tradition of green apparel and wacky accessories was on parade and infused among spectators lining the routes.

As always, dyeing of the Chicago River downtown was a main event for many. But for those who didn't want to make the trek, local celebrations in Naperville, Palatine, Lake Villa and elsewhere were well attended on a chilly but bright day.

Suburban events offered a more manageable experience with close-up views and easy parking.

"It was fun to see the green (Chicago) river one year. That was it," said Ryan Freese, who moved to Buffalo Grove from Seattle four years ago. With him at Paint the Town Green in Palatine were his wife, Katie, and kids Mason, 6, and Taylor, 8.

"We love to go to the parades," Katie said. "It's the perfect length. Everybody's friendly."

That Irish spirit was in ample evidence at Paint the Town Green, which featured 42 Irish-themed floats and other candy-flinging entries in an hourlong parade downtown along Wood Street. Lightweight portable chairs and blankets lined the curbsides as families staked their spots. Several of the many dogs there were dressed for the occasion.

"It's not anything crazy big, but it's not too small, either," said Jerrett Kelly, who was with wife, Charissa, and kids Owen, 3, and Trevor, 7. "The kids get enough candy but not so much it lasts weeks and weeks."

St. Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland in the fifth century. Originally, St. Patrick's day was a religious holiday to honor him, but it has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish. Since 1991, March has been designated Irish-American Heritage Month. According to the American Community Survey, 32.6 million or just over 10 percent of U.S. residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2017.

Besides entertainment, the Palatine parade served another purpose as marchers accepted donations of food, clothing and disposable paper products for Journeys the Road Home, an organization that provides shelter services and housing to those in suburban Cook County who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

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