Chicago Police are on hand to keep an eye on the parade fans at the South Side Irish Parade on March, 11, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 1:44PM
Rowdy drunks would pay dearly if they try to take over the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade, thanks to a crackdown approved Wednesday by aldermen that could lead to a rash of arrests at the Gay Pride Parade.
At the behest of Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th), in whose ward the Irish Parade is held, the city council agreed to impose tougher penalties on those caught drinking in public within 800 feet of any parade in progress in Chicago.
O’Shea’s initial proposal targeted anyone within 200 feet of a parade, but the final version increased the distance while substantially hiking fines. The minimum fine for adults rose from $100 to $500 while the maximum doubled to $1,000, under the revised ordinance, and the alternative to the fines is up to six months in jail.
Adults who relieve themselves in public within 200 feet of a parade in progress face similar fines and from five to 10 days in jail, while minors will be slapped with $500 fines or required to perform 25 hours of community service.
The crackdown comes nearly a year after the South Side Irish Parade made a successful, family-oriented return from a three-year hiatus caused by public drunkenness and arrests.
The new penalties apply to all parades in the city and could lead to more arrests at the annual Gay Pride Parade, where public drinking has been a problem. It’s held in Ald. Tom Tunney’s 44th Ward, but he said he’s fine with the changes and supported them.
“Police have got to do their job and manage these parades. Raising the fines? I’m OK with that. I want to make sure it’s safe for everyone,” Tunney said.