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Thousands Celebrate At South Side Irish Parade

(CBS) -- The bagpipes, marching bands and fire trucks rolled down Western Avenue for the South Side Irish Parade, a St. Patrick's tradition for thousands of Chicagoans.

The parade stepped off at noon from 103rd and Western and goes down to 115th and Western as an estimated crowd of 200,000 people lined the route.

There was great weather for the parade, with temperatures in the 60s, well above the normal high of 46 degrees.


Beverly resident Bill Cunningham Jr. told WBBM's Mariam Sobh he comes out to the parade every year with his family for the sights and sounds.

"Even though we're not Irish, we're part of the community, we love to come out, we love to see all the businesses and all the people," Cunningham said.

Jolissa Guedes says she attended the downtown St. Patrick's Day on Saturday and it was wild, but that the South Side Irish Parade is tradition and that's why she's been coming every year since she was a kid.

"On St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish, so we came out with the family and it's the South Side parade, so I would not miss it for the world," she said.

Special security measures were in place to prevent a replay of trouble that forced a suspension of the parade.

Excessive drinking and unruly behavior led organizers to cancel the parade in 2009. It was re-instated back in 2012 and parade committee members say things have been different since then.

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Darth Vader and a storm trooper marching in the 2015 South Side Irish Parade. (Credit: Mariam Sobh)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Chuy Garcia each made an appearance in the parade. Both also marched in the downtown parade on Saturday. Governor Bruce Rauner and Senator Dick Durbin were also there.

The South Side parade also featured the elaborate costumes and masks of the Noggeler 50 piece marching band from Lucerne, Switzerland. Lucerne is one of Chicago's sister cities.

The Northwest Side Irish Parade also kicked off at noon from William J. Onahan School on West Raven Street.

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