The fourth annual Oak Forest Fleadh is Saturday. | File photo
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:03AM
What started as a way to kick the winter blahs has become a popular event held every March in Oak Forest.
The fourth annual Oak Forest Fleadh — which is Gaelic for “festival,” and is pronounced “flah” — is set for Saturday on Cicero Avenue between 151st and 159th streets. It features customer appreciation parties, a 5K race, an open bike ride, a family parade, and a pub and restaurant open house.
“We started this as a way to bring the community together, an event to celebrate the businesses in town, to get people out on Cicero Avenue, and to celebrate the Irish,” Oak Forest spokeswoman Chrissy Maher said. “People get a little stir-crazy at the end of winter and are looking forward to spring. This is our way of getting them out there.”
Things start with a run at 8:30 a.m.
“It’s really well-attended. Last year, we had close to 600 runners. We are hoping for more than 700 this year. It’s a good race and people like the route,” Maher said. “It’s a fun way to kick off the spring races. Each year it gets bigger and better.”
The entry fee is $30. Plaques go to the top three finishers, and medals go to the top three in each age bracket for men and women.
“Each year it gets bigger and better,” Maher said.
Participants are asked to donate to the St. Damian Food Pantry by bringing a nonperishable item.
“We had 500 pounds of food last year. This time of year, pantries are really hurting,” Maher said.
Runners are encouraged to dress up for the race.
“Some women showed up in sparkly tutus last year and we had some leprechauns, too,” she said.
The run is followed by an open bike ride that starts at 10 a.m. Bicyclists, often joined by in-line skaters, have free rein on Cicero Avenue until the parade begins at 11 a.m.
Parade entrants gather in the Metra parking lot at the northwest corner of 159th Street and Cicero Avenue. The route heads north on Cicero to 151st Street.
“We’ll have marching bands. We’ll have the Oak Forest High School band, the Pipes and Drums of the Chicago Police Department, and the Stockyard Kilty pipe band. What’s nice about doing this on March 9 is we are not competing with other parades for the Irish bands,” Maher said.
The parade is expected to last an hour or so. The grand marshal will be Bremen Township Supervisor and former state Sen. Maggie Crotty.
Later in the day, there will be free buses taking people to seven establishments participating in an open house at which most will offer deals on meals or beverages. The open house starts at 5 p.m. and runs until 3 a.m. March 10.
Participants include Beggars Pizza, 15600 S. Cicero Ave.; Blarney Stone Pub, 15400 S. Cicero Ave.; Marcotte’s Bar and Grill, 15501 S. Cicero Ave.; Gaelic Park, 6119 W. 147th St.; Oak Forest Bowl, 15240 S. Cicero Ave.; Oliver’s Bar and Grill, 6150 W. 159th St., Tap’s Pub, 15427 S. Cicero Ave.; and Cindy’s Pub, 5230 W. 159th St.