Why I stay home on St. Patrick's Day


Don’t get me wrong…I have nothing against people of Irish descent. In fact, my husband’s people are Irish. They are lovely people with lovely, lilting accents, lovely traditions, lovely dancing and lovely music.

As we all know in Chicago, “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” due to our fair city’s large Irish/Irish-American population which happens to be Chicago’s largest ethnic group. Many of our most loved and/or hated politicians are from Irish descent; most recently the Daleys. Our Irish brethren have populated Chicago for more than 150 years and were instrumental in its incredible growth into the city it has become.

Apparently, many 20 somethings think that statement gives them carte blanche to be complete asshats on St. Patrick’s Day; getting paralytically pissed out of their minds, as in drunk, by 11am and then staggering around their neighborhoods, making a nuisance of themselves by blocking traffic and puking in the middle of the road. The lucky ones get to pass out on the sidewalk. Lovely. I hope your mamas are proud of you.


I have lived in a lot of different neighborhoods in my lifetime, Wicker Park, Logan Square, Old Irving Park, Rogers Park and Lakeview which is by far the most obnoxious place to be on St. Patrick’s Day. My husband, Martin, my son and I lived in Lakeview for 2 years in order to be close to my son’s school, Louis Agassiz Elementary, located at Seminary and George St.

We had lived in Old Irving Park for the first 2 years of my son’s Agassiz experience and I had to drive him back and forth to school which took up a significant amount of my time. So, when our landlord evicted us in the summer of 2008, it ended up being the “kick in the pants” that we needed to move much closer to his school. We found a hugely expensive, tiny apartment on Wellington and Racine, but it was walking distance to school. Woo hoo! Unfortunately, that only lasted for 6 months. But, that story is best left for another blog post.

We lived half a block away from a bar and 4 blocks away from Illinois Masonic Hospital, so we were on the “flight path of screaming ambulances” on their way to the hospital at all hours of the day and night. Nothing prepared me for what I would encounter on St. Patrick’s Day, 2009. It was a beautiful warm day and we decided to go to Lincoln Park Zoo. As I turned down Lincoln Ave. near the old Children’s Memorial Hospital, I was confronted by dozens of very drunk young men and women who were spilling out of the John Barleycorn bar on Belden Ave. As I tried to get around the mob, one jerk decided it would fun if he stood in the middle of the street, leaving me 2 choices; I could mow him down, which I sorely wanted to do but that would be wrong, or I could just sit in the street, waiting for him to move. Being the practical woman that I am, I chose the latter. He taunted me for several minutes and finally moved out of the way. Some fun, eh?


St. Patrick’s Day was never a big deal in Ireland until quite recently; I guess the Irish want to “keep up with the Joneses” so to speak. It is truly a display of behavior at its worst. Luckily, this year, I was spared the nightmare of traveling downtown to a client appointment at the IBM building on the day of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Parking is a nightmare and trying to negotiate a massage table around drunken crowds of people is not my idea of a good time.

Four years ago, we moved to W. Rogers Park where NOBODY celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. Such a relief. But, on Purim, this neighborhood rocks!


Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Do you have a family tradition? I would love to hear your comments.

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