Members of the Stock Yard Kilty Band play the bagpipes at the Oak Forest Fleadh. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 3, 2014 6:19AM
What most people call a festival is called a fleadh in Oak Forest.
By any name, the city’s annual Irish-style celebration is scheduled for March 8.
The day’s schedule is filled with activities for young and old, most of them on or along Cicero Avenue, which will be closed from 151st to 159th streets from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Fifth Annual Oak Forest Fleadh (pronounced “flah”) starts at 8:30 a.m. with a 5K run that begins and ends at 159th and Cicero. Registrants are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for the St. Damian Food Pantry, which benefits Oak Forest families in need.
An “open streets” event follows at 10 a.m. on Cicero. It used to be for an open bike ride, but this year will include more activities, according to Kimberly Malecky-Iles, executive director of the Oak Forest-Crestwood Area Chamber of Commerce.
On Waverly Avenue, there will be a bike rodeo, which is a bicycle skills course for children, conducted by Active Transportation Alliance. It is for children ages 7 to 12, and kids must bring their own bikes and helmets.
Other activities include the Bus of Fun at 151st Street. Provided by Cindy Wojtanowski, the converted school bus has tables where kids can make crafts and take part in other activities for free.
Kids will enjoy age-appropriate games and activities on and off the bus (weather permitting for outside games), such as creative crafts, bean bag toss, Minute to Win It, limbo, freeze dance and more, according to the city’s website.
The open-streets event also will include a Zumba party in the parking lot of Allstate agent Susan Semanate, 15524 S. Cicero Ave. She is sponsoring a trained instructor to lead a 60-minute dance workout. Semanate and her husband, Carlos Semanate, want to promote good health while making it fun, he said. There will be a tent and a disc jockey, so they will be ready for any kind of weather, he said.
The family parade is to step off at 11 a.m. from 157th Street, and then travel along Cicero Avenue to 151st Street. Lifetime chamber directors Shirley Cozzo and LaVerne Schultz are to serve as grand marshals.
“We thought it was extremely fitting to select our lifetime directors as the grand marshals of this year’s parade as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Oak Forest chamber,” Malecky-Iles said. “Shirley and LaVerne were instrumental in making the chamber what it is today — a successful and viable organization.”
The parade will include bagpipe bands, Scouts, a leprechaun, school bands, the park district and area businesses, she said.
There will be pub and restaurant open houses from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. A free shuttle will be available from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Throughout the event, alcohol will be permitted only inside designated areas such as beer tents, beer gardens, pubs and restaurants, according to the city. The city’s public intoxication and open containers ordinances will be strictly enforced, it said.
Free parking will be available all day and night in the Arbor Commuter Lot at the southwest corner of 159th Street and Oak Avenue — across from the Metra train station, the city said.
For more information, visit www.oak-forest.org.