Irish Parade in Tinley Park: Rain, romance and revelry
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org March 10, 2013 10:10PM
Bagpipers march during the Tinley Park St. Patrick's Day Parade on Oak Park Avenue. | Paul Bergstrom ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 12, 2013 6:30AM
The 14th annual Irish Parade in Tinley Park meant more to Katie Baiker than just bagpipes, candy and green beads.
That’s because smooth operator Mitch Smith used the float he was riding on with his fellow baseball players to ask Baiker to the Tinley Park High School prom.
“Katie Baiker,” the sign read. “Prom? Love Mitch.”
When his float reached Baiker, he hopped off and handed her a bouquet of flowers. She gladly took him up on his offer, and they hopped aboard the float together for the rest of the route.
“She was really surprised,” said Baiker’s mother, Shayne Gorski, who helped plan the surprise. “We were trying to stay long enough through the rain.”
The parade started at 2 p.m. and drew thousands of people to downtown Tinley Park, stretching along both sides of the route from 181st Street to 172nd Street on Oak Park Avenue.
Onlookers, with their beers and spirits in hand, watched the parade from behind barriers lining the street and atop the outdoor patios of Tinley Park mainstay saloons: Durbin’s, J.W. Holstein’s, and Teehan’s.
Tinley Park native Stacie Juris, who in December became Miss Illinois USA 2013, served as the parade’s grand marshall, waving to the crowd from the back seat of a car. While Juris was the headliner, the village’s police officers and firefighters got the glory, kicking off the parade with the blasting sound of sirens and firetruck horns.
Ivan Baker, the village’s economic development director and master of ceremonies for the event, told the crowd that he had to “discard” his British and German heritage for the day and go “full Irish.”
While it was a day for families and revelers alike, politicians used the parade to get their names out there before the April election. Tinley Park mayoral candidates Ed Zabrocki and Steve Eberhardt were out campaigning as were candidates in a smattering of local school boards.
There was also an appearance by White Sox mascot Southpaw, who had a busy day as he was also seen earlier in the afternoon walking at the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Orland Park resident Kellie Shanklin chose to go to the Tinley Park parade with her 7-year-old daughter Teagan instead of the Chicago parade because it was smaller and quieter.
“It’s not as crazy and it’s a little more kid-friendly,” Shaklin said. “There’s less drunkards.”
Jennifer Olszewski, of Burbank, and Libby Schultz, of Tinley Park, staked out a spot in the Citibank parking lot south of the Metra train tracks at about 11 a.m. She parked her SUV in the parking lot, opened the trunk and used it as a beer dispensary for her party of 14 people.
“Beer tastes better outdoors,” Olszewski said.
And the parade wasn’t just for people. Orland Park residents Michelle Molloy and Steve Finney brought their bearded collie and golden retriever to the festivities. They said they dressed up their dogs in an Irish cap and a derby hat and a tie for the Oak Forest Fleadh on Saturday, but held off on Sunday due to the weather.
“We were afraid that if it rained, they’d get green coloring all over their coats,” Molloy said.
After threatening for most of the day, the rain started to fall about 3:17 p.m., thinning out the crowds lining the street — but not Tinley Park resident Jerry Burbie.
Burbie, and his 9-year-old daughter Claire, thought ahead and brought an umbrella as well as hooded sweatshirts to wear to the parade.
“We just figured the weather was going to be rainy,” Burbie said. “We will rake in some candy now that everyone is leaving.”