Greetings, fellow travelers! Have you thawed out yet? Good! Those of you who have been following this blog for a few years know that we usually remind you about the March holidays (no, we don’t mean March Madness, even though I am an NCAA hoops fan). I refer, of course, to St. Patrick’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day celebrations in and around Chicago. St. Casimir’s Day, also known as Casimir Pulaski Day and the 178th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Chicago, happened last week on March 4th. But the big celebrations are really St. Pat’s and St. Joe’s. Happy namesday in advance to all you Pats and Joes out there!
Most of you locals probably already know that Chicago’s main St. Patrick’s Day stuff will happen this coming Saturday, starting with 9 a.m. Mass at Old St. Pat’s Church on Desplaines and Adams Streets, followed by a traditional Irish breakfast in the church hall (individual tickets are $30 per person), for which reservations are required. There will be Celtic music and dancing during the breakfast, if you really need that.
Chicago’s official parade and civic celebration begins with the dyeing of the Chicago River at 9:15 a.m. between Columbus Drive and Michigan Avenue (it’s bright orange powder before it turns the river green, BTW) and the official city St. Pat’s Parade, where every politician with so much as a mililiter of sense will be marching along with the bagpipers. The parade begins at noon at Balbo Drive and Columbus in Grant Park. Best places form which to see the dyeing of the river are the east side of the Michigan Avenue Bridge and west side of the Columbus Drive Bridge — but get there EARLY if you expect to wedge yourself in there to see anything (it means skipping Mass at Old St. Pat’s).
However, the South Side Irish Parade is on Sunday, folks, down Western Avenue. That’s where all the Celtic denizens of Beverly, Mount Greenwood and other nearby areas come out to play. It’ll start at noon at 103rd St. and Western, and there absolutely will be parking restrictions in the area, so check out those details here. There will also be an Emerald Isle Mile Run an hour earlier, at 11 a.m., to benefit the Special Olympics; you can find details about that here.
Sunday is also the date of the St. Joseph’s Table dinner at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Little Italy. The dinner at Our Lady of Pompeii church hall is usually booked up way in advance, and they have two seatings, but you can find out more here. Who knows? You might get lucky and they’ll be able to squeeze you in after all (but call immediately for tickets, right?). We mention OLOP, of course, because the church is near Route 66 on the Near West Side.
Many Italian parishes, of course, will be having their own St. Joseph’s tables on or before the feast of St. Joseph, which is Thursday, March 19th. So will a number of Eastern European parishes, as St. Joseph is big with them, too, especially the Poles. The closest Polish parish to Route 66 is St. Mary of Częstochowa in Cicero, at 30th Street and 48th Court. They’re keeping things simple this year, with just a St. Joseph Mass in Polish at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. St. Mary also has a sizeable Hispanic membership in the parish.
Interestingly, both Our Lady of Pompeii and St. Mary of Częstochowa were designed by the same Chicago architectural firm: Worthmann & Steinbach, who were church specialists. OLOP is more Italian Romanesque and was one of the last church projects completed by the firm, whereas St. Mary is in the Polish cathedral style and was built earlier. P.S. — If you’re in the area of OLOP, don’tr forget to stop in at Ferrara Original Bakery at Ogden Avenue and Taylor Street for St. Joe’s zeppole!
St. Joseph Church in Joliet, a parish begun by Slovenes that still has some Slovenian members among its largely Hispanic parishioners, will celebrate Saturday the 14th (tomorrow!) with a Mass for its patron saint at 9 a.m. Later in the day after the 4 p.m. Mass, there will be a St. Joseph’s Table dinner at St. Joseph Park near Theodore Street and Raynor Avenue. See the online church bulletin for further details.
And that’s it for our sainted weekend round-up. Until next time, fellow roadies!
Your own Route 66 reporter,