River North might as well claim its fame as the new Chicago neighborhood for St Patricks Day.
The South Side, with its wild parade and engorged pubs, used to be Saint Pats headquarters. But with its parade halted, replaced by the toned-down South Side Irish Parade Family Fest and Sunday Mass, it is time for a new hood to step up to the plate. Let debauchery, St. Patricks Day Parade, and drinking ensue River North is in prime position to take the reins and be the official neighborhood to celebrate Saint Patricks Day.
Just south of River North, downtown Chicago already has a parade, the St. Patricks Day Parade. On Saturday, March 13 at noon, the marching bands will start their horns at Columbus Drive and Balboa and stretch all the way north on Columbus to East Monroe Street. The Chicago River gets dyed green at River Norths doorstep and the crowds inevitably party from March 13 until the official holiday on March 17.
Wake up early on Saturday, March 13, so you wont miss the green stream running through your backyard. The Irish Miracle (actually orange dye) makes for a perfect Kelly Green river that gets crowds as worked up as a leprechaun reaching his pot of gold!
Forget crowding onto the Dearborn Street, State Street, or Michigan Avenue Bridges to watch the swirling magic. Instead, squat on your own patio overlooking the river and downtown. If you, unfortunately, face north or are just out of beer in the fridge, head downstairs to Dicks Last Resort. The patio is open for the festivities and green beer will be flowing after the doors open at 9:30 a.m.
To keep the parade revelers entertained, Dicks has J.P. and the Cats starting their own rock and roll Irish music at noon.
Cant wait until 10:45 a.m. to start partying? Head over to Rock Bottom Brewery for pre-parade festivities. From 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., $15 will get you beer and a breakfast buffet. As the buffet closes, the music starts with Tinkers Cuss from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The music and party continues at Rock Bottom with One of the Girls from noon to 3 p.m. and Tanglewood from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
If the crowds that swarm the river and the parade are too much for you, head a little bit farther into River North to Rockit Bar & Grill. The special St. Patricks Day menu includes corned beef and potato lasagna with cabbage and Guinness potato-and-cheese soup. Support Dublin by indulging in $5 Guinness pints and Jameson shots, $4 green beers, and $7 Irish car bombs at the Hubbard Street bar.
Sick of the parade and ready for something different to celebrate St. Paddys Day on March 13? Try the Chief ONeill Memorial Pub Crawl hosted by Chicago Hauntings. Heck, since the crawl is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., why not try a St. Pats threesome: dyeing of the river in the morning, the parade at noon, and the crawl for the evening.
The most popular tour of the year is on the eve of Chicagos Irish Feast Day and lasts a whopping four hours. The tour is $38 per person and includes the haunted history of Bridgeport, the ghost of Harry Caray, and toasts to the Irish mob king, Bugs Moran.
The true Irish are ready to party on Wednesday, March 17. Martini Park has free appetizers and the cover band Rendition. Martini Parks Day of St. Pats drink specials include $5 Guinness pints and Jameson cocktails.
Celebrate an entire week of being Irish and peeing green!
Pasha Holiday is a former newspaper reporter and columnist. She now spends most of her time renovating a 110-year-old Chicago bungalow and working for Dicks Last Resort at Marina City.