March 17, 1972: Mike Royko on St. Paddy's in Chicago

March 17, 1972: Mike Royko on St. Paddy's in Chicago

We'll be back this Wednesday with a new Chicago journalism People With Passion with Jonathan Eig of Chicago Side, and since I am about to head out to, in the approximate words of Pete Venkman, "Get crazy in the streets of Chicago," I figured I would take a moment to bang out a terrific Royko St. Paddy's column from 1972. Enjoy!

They Reign In Their Parade

by Mike Royko, Chicago Daily News

March 17, 1972

Transcribed by Jack M Silverstein from Slats Grobnik and some other friends

Few days are as festive and joyous for all Chicagoans as St. Patrick's Day.

Although it is an Irish observance, people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds take part because, as Mayor Daley is fond of saying:

"Everybody in Chicago is Irish on St. Patrick's Day."

And to a visitor, that might appear to be true. In City Hall and other government offices, just about everyone wears a touch of green, whether they are Irish or something else.

The Chicago River is dyed green, and green water spurts from the fountain in the Civic Center Plaza.

Regardless of what they usually serve, most restaurants add corned beef and cabbage to their menu, and some put green coloring in the beer.

But the true spirit of the day can be seen at the great parade down State St., with a green stripe painted down the center of the road.

While most marchers in the front of the parade are Irish -- including such officials as the mayor, the assessor, the president of the County Board, the county clerk, the police chief, and the fire chief -- following behind are many individuals and organizations representing other nationalities, most of them sporting the symbolic shamrock, the Irish walking sticks and green hats.

Naturally, you'll find a few spoilsports who don't take part in some way, and to them the mayor's friends jokingly boast: "There are only two kinds of people -- those who are Irish, and those who wish they were Irish."

Of course, this isn't the only such annual observance in Chicago. Another popular event is the feast day of San Juan Bautista, held in June.

Although it is a Puerto Rican observance, people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds take part because, as Mayor Daley is fond of saying:

"On the feast day of San Juan Bautista, everybody in Chicago is Puerto Rican."

And to a visitor, that might appear to be true. In City Hall and other government offices, just about everyone wears the "pava," which is the Puerto Rican straw hat.

Most restaurants add roast pig and boiled green bananas to their menu, and some put festive coloring in the rum.

But the true spirit of the day can be seen at the great Puerto Rican feast-day parade down State St.

While the marchers in front are Puerto Rican, they are followed by those of other groups, including the mayor, the assessor, the president of the County Board, the police chief, and the fire chief, all wearing their "pava" hats and Puerto Rican peasant costumes.

Naturally, you'll find a few spoilsports who won't take part. But to them the mayor's friends jokingly boast: "There are only two kinds of people -- those who are Puerto Rican, and those who wish they were Puerto Rican."

Then there is Jan. 15, which is Martin Luther King's birthday.

Although it is primarily a black observance, people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds take part because, as Mayor Daley is fond of saying:

"Everybody in Chicago is an African on Martin Luther King's birthday."

And to a visitor that might appear to be true. In City Hall and other government offices, just about everybody is wearing an African dashiki.

The Chicago River is dyed black, and black water spurts from the fountain in the Civic Center Plaza.

Most restaurants add chitterlings, hog maw, roast 'possum, and black eyed peas to their menu, and some put black coloring in the beer.

But the true spirit of the day can be seen in the King Day parade down State St., with the black stripe down the center of the road.

While Jesse Jackson, C.T. Vivian, Tom Todd, and other black leaders march in front, they are followed by such people as the mayor, the president of the County Board, the assessor, the police chief and the fire chief, all wearing the traditional African dashiki.

A few non-black spoilsports don't take part in some way, and to them the mayor's friends jokingly boast: "There are only two kinds of people -- those who are Africans and those who wish they were Africans."

Another joyous time is Hanukkah. Although it is a Jewish observance, just about everybody else joins in, because as Mayor Daley is fond of saying:

"During Hanukkah, everybody in Chicago is a Jew."

When you think about it, these special days, which every ethnic group has, are one of the reasons the people of Chicago get along so well together.

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More old Royko from ReadJack:

On Nixon and baseball, from 1979

"How to Cure a Hangover" from 1974

Daley parade photo credit.

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