It's hard to believe but two years ago it was the weekend before St. Patrick's Day that the world shut down due to the novel coronavirus. The parades were canceled and the bars were closed in 2020...then 2021...and the city of Chicago just...hasn't felt the same...

Sure, they scrambled a last-minute dyeing of the river green last year but even that type of symbolism, while quaint, just doesn't do enough to bring the sense of normalcy back. At least, not as much as a shot of Jameson paired with a pint of Guinness while watching a cover band slur through the best of The Pogues with a background view of a clumsy afternoon fight happening in the streets just beyond the windows outside of the packed corner bar does.

Does the general malaise in the city have anything to do with the fact that none of us have been able to participate in this city's annual spring purge of our pent-up social lives for the last two years by giving the finger metaphorically and literally to the final days of bitter cold and herald the fresh warm air by drinking irresponsibly and making bad decisions?

Probably not, but we're willing to suggest anything to get you all back up and out.

The good news is the parades are back. All of them. And the bars and restaurants should be open.

Saint Pat is officially four weeks away.

The St. Patrick's Day weekend kickoff is always in the Loop with the dyeing of the river followed by the parade in Grant Park. This year, the city's scheduled it for Saturday, March 12.

Times for each of the events have not yet been announced but, traditionally, the dyeing of the river starts at about 9:00 a.m. Last year they dyed the river a couple of hours earlier, ostensibly because they didn't want too large of a crowd to gather. Also traditionally, the downtown parade starts around noon on Columbus Drive between Balbo Drive and Monroe Drive.

Both the Northwest Side and the South Side parades have announced they're kicking off at noon on Sunday, March 13. Both group organizers have said they expect at least 100 groups to participate in this year's festivities, and both were quick to point out that they're stepping up security in anticipation of the large crowds expected.

The Northwest Side parade will begin at William J. Onahan School (6634 W. Raven St.) and proceed along N. Neola Avenue to N. Northwest Highway to Harlem Avenue.

The South Side parade, the legendary one that officially began in 1979 and the one with all the stories your Uncle can't tell you about, will once again travel through Chicago's Beverly and Morgan Park neighborhoods. It begins at 103rd Street and Western Avenue, and will continue along Western Avenue to 115th Street.

Please drink (cough) responsibly. ;)

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