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From Sochi to South Side, Olympians to march in Irish parade

Bronze medal winners from United States Jamie Greubel AjEvans pose during flower ceremony during women's bobsled competiti2014 Winter Olympics Wednesday

Bronze medal winners from the United States Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans pose during the flower ceremony during the women's bobsled competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn) ORG XMIT: OLYBO259

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Updated: April 17, 2014 6:40AM



The 36th South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade will have an Olympic flavor Sunday.

Three members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team that recently competed in the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, are expected to be marching down Western Avenue.

Kendal Coyne, of Palos Heights, and a silver medal winner with the U.S. women’s hockey team; Aja Evans, a product of Morgan Park High School and a bronze medal winner in the women’s bobsled; and speedskater Emery Lehman, a sophomore at Oak Park-River Forest High School, are planning to attend, promoter Ellyn Caruso said Friday.

The parade, expected to draw about 150,000 spectators, starts at noon Sunday at 103rd Street and Western Avenue and heads south to 115th Street.

Organizers decided after the Olympics, “wouldn’t it be great to have some athletes here?” Caruso said.

“We reached out to all the Olympians from the Chicago area and got these three,” Caruso said.

The Olympians will march with their families and friends. And, yes, the medal winners are expected to have their hardware with them, Caruso said. All three are expected to wear their Team USA gear.

It’s fitting, she said, that successful Olympic athletes should be paired with successful local athletes.

“Every year, we honor our student athletes who are state champs. So we thought, ‘What better than having the Olympians lead them?’” Caruso said.

The trio will lead the way for members of the six state champion teams with ties to the 19th Ward: Brother Rice’s rugby team; Morgan Park’s boys basketball team; Mother McAuley’s volleyball team; Mount Carmel’s baseball and football teams; and St. Ignatius’ girls water polo team.

The parade, in its third year after a two-year hiatus, has 99 entrants, Caruso said. Included are six marching bands, seven pipe bands and three Irish dancing troupes, along with floats representing families, schools and parishes.

The grand marshal is the Mulliganeers, a charitable orgranzation that helps families with children who have serious medical problems. The parade honoree this year is County Fair Foods, a family-owned grocery store along the parade route that is celebrating its 50th year in business.

The second annual Emerald Isle Mile will begin at 11 a.m., taking runners and walkers north on Western Avenue from 112th Street to the finish line at 104th Street.

Once again, there is a zero tolerance policy regarding drinking alcoholic beverages along the parade route. Organizers have credited that policy with helping free the parade from its formerly rowdy reputation — one that led to it being canceled for two years — and returning it to its family roots.



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