15th annual Tinley Park Irish Parade is no dog
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org March 9, 2014 7:52PM
The Band of Brothers Pipes and Drums perform for the Tinley Park St. Patricks Day Parade, Sunday, March 9th, 2014 in Tinley Park | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 11, 2014 6:26AM
Sunday was 1-year-old Chauncey’s first Downtown Tinley Irish Parade, and sporting a green leprechaun hat, he certainly fit in with the crowd.
He was there with his half-sister, 3-year-old Chanel, herself a parade veteran and wearing a Scottish tam-o’-shanter.
Both bearded collies, they weren’t so much interested in hearing the pipes and drums bands or scrambling for candy tossed by parade entrants. The 15th annual event drew thousands of two-legged attendees, while those of the four-legged variety were well represented, too.
“They go every place with us,” Steve Finney, of Orland Park, and a co-owner of the show dogs said.
The parade route began at Central Middle School, 18146 Oak Park Ave., and went north on Oak Park Avenue to 171st Street. Just a week before the parade, 50 entrants had signed up, but a last-minute surge pushed that number past 70 by the day of the event.
Entrants included the Medinah Highlanders, a pipes and drums band affiliated with Medinah Shrine Temple; The Chicago Stock Yard Kilty Band; and Band of Brothers Pipes and Drums, comprised of active and retired firefighters from the Chicago area.
Aidan Cronin, Ireland’s consul general in Chicago, served as the parade’s grand marshal.
Eileen O’Hara, of Oak Forest, said it’s the pipes and drums that draw her and her husband, Jim, to the Tinley parade.
“I just love them,” she said.
The couple will attend Sunday’s South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago.
“We’ve been going to both for years, and with a name like O’Hara the whole month (of March) is pretty much one long party.”
Katie Foster, of Orland Park, had her sons, Adam, 7, and 5-year-old Logan in tow and said she was glad the weather was fairly decent. While temperatures were above freezing and skies were sunny, a persistent wind kept things on the cool side.
“This isn’t too bad,” Foster said. “Last year it started raining just about at the end of the parade, which was a lot worse.”
At parades and other events in Tinley Park, Julie and Kurt Dekker are a fixture, with Julie dressed as Loopy T. Clown and her husband as Cazoo T. Clown. They were riding bikes in Sunday’s parade.
“Every parade this town throws, we’re in it,” Julie Dekker said.
She is gallery director at the Vogt Visual Arts Center in Tinley Park and also is a citizen journalist for the SouthtownStar.
Tom McInerney, 31, and Lori Belmonte, 28, both of Oak Forest, brought their dogs to Oak Park Avenue on Sunday afternoon. Zookie, a 3-year-old great Dane, and Sadie, a 1-year-old border collie mix, sat next to their owners as they waited for the parade to roll by.
This year was McInerney’s first time at the Tinley Park parade. He said he prefers any events that are “free and close.”
Belmonte’s niece was marching with her dance troop. She said her family often is the reason she attends local parades and festivals.
“Usually, a member of our family is doing something in the event,” she said.
Tinley Park police reported no major incidents or arrests in connection with the parade, according to Pat Carr, director of the village’s emergency management agency.
Correspondent Nick Swedberg