Considered to be one of the largest neighborhood-based St. Patrick's Day parades outside Dublin, Chicago's South Side Irish Parade began quite modestly, with 17 children under the age of 10 marching twice around the block. Dubbing themselves the "Wee Ones of Washtenaw and Talman," the founders of this great parade marched with homemade signs, costumes, and a baby buggy while neighbors and family members cheered them on.
Over the next 31 years, the parade grew into an annual event, attracting hundreds of thousands who came to celebrate Irish heritage with family and friends. In 2009, Pres. Barack Obama encouraged Taoiseach Brian Cowen of Ireland to visit the parade, calling it "one of the great events in America."
Bridget Houlihan Kennedy is originally from Chicago's South Side. She began going to the parade with her family and grandmother Alice O'Leary Loftus as a young girl. A graduate of John Carroll University, Kennedy received her master's in journalism-public affairs at Columbia College in Chicago. Now a freelance writer and reporter, Kennedy has written for Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Pioneer Press. She currently resides in Chicago with her husband and family.