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Charity For Kids To Serve As Grand Marshals Of Irish Parade

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With Chicago still stuck in the icy grip of Old Man Winter, plenty of thoughts have been turning to spring, none moreso than organizers of an event that serves as one of the first signs of the end of winter in the Windy City.

The temperature was in the single digits on Thursday, but Irish music filled the air as Irish step dancers performed outside County Fair grocery store in Beverly, where the grand marshals were named for this year's South Side Irish Parade, scheduled for the eve of St. Patrick's Day.

They are The Mulliganeers, a group that gives financially struggling families with serious medical challenges a "mulligan," the golfing term for a second chance. They have distributed $4.3 million to more than 260 children and their families since 1995.

Mary Jo Smith's 11-year-old son Michael was a recipient 10 years ago, and she said, "They really helped us at a time when we were struggling."

A nearly half hour news conference was held outside on 108th and Western.

County Fair president Tim Baffes, who also is one of the honorees of this year's parade, said it's "a time when family and friends come together and enjoy this wonderful parade and some great corned beef. Hopefully, this year is going to be a beautiful day and we can put Old Man Winter to bed."

The South Side Irish Parade steps off from 103rd and Western at noon on Sunday, March 16.

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