Manhattan's Irish Fest is March 1-2. | Sun-Times Media files
Updated: March 6, 2013 12:02PM
Most folks know that Naperville was settled by Joseph Naper, who was Scottish.
But some may not be aware that an Irishman — John Murray — was an original member of the settling party.
“There have been Irish here in town since Day 1,” said Chuck Corrigan, chairman of Naperville’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Presented by the West Suburban Irish, Naperville’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade will kick off at 10 a.m. March 16 from Naperville North High School, located at 899 N. Mill St. It continues south on Mill Street, east on Jefferson Avenue, south on Main Street and west on Water Street to the Municipal Center.
There are close to 100 entries; including the parade’s queen, Irish pipe bands, marching bands, local businesses, politicians, youth groups and community organizations.
“A lot of Shriner groups are joining this year with their little cars,” Corrigan said. “It should be a visually appealing parade. Last year, we had short-sleeved weather. We’re hoping for the same this year.”
This is the 20th anniversary of the parade, and it’s gotten larger with each passing year.
“People like to see the family atmosphere,” he said. “There’s a nice feel to it. Traditionally, it’s the first event of the year in Naperville that everyone is outdoors at the same time. We get people from all over the area who come as well.”
Last year, he said the mayor estimated that more than a record 17,000 people attended the parade.
In addition to the parade, Naperville’s Sunrise Rotary Club hosts a popular St. Paddy’s Day 5K run.
Kevin Dolan, the founder of the parade, serves as its grand marshal this year.
The area’s largest fest dedicated to celebrating all things Irish kicks off at 5:30 p.m. March 1.
The 19th annual Manhattan Irish Festival runs March 1 and 2 in downtown Manhattan, presented by the Irish American Society of County Will. Danny Doyle of Manhattan serves as the fest’s chairman this year.
The Manhattan Park District Recreation Center will open at 6 p.m. with a teen dance, DJ, ping pong, interactive NEO game, bean bags and a free photo booth.
The entertainment tens opens at 5:30 p.m. March 1 with Boston-area singer Colm O’Brien and bagpipers to introduce the grand marshal Barbara Jean Daugherty.
The Milwaukee-based band Reilly headlines the entertainment tent from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. March 1. The band plays a mix of Irish and rock music, and performed at the Manhattan Irish Fest the last two years, as well as at the Will County Celtic Festival in September 2012.
“We get to that area pretty frequently now,” said Michael Tierney, who plays guitar, bouzouki, whistles, mandolin and harmonica with Reilly. “We get around to Northern Illinois quite a bit, which is great.”
Their new album “Revelry and Regret,” was recently released. They’ll play a handful of songs from the new album, as well as some older material.
“We’re not a stand-around, balladeer sort of band,” he said. “It’s meant to be more fun, jumping around and having a good time.”
Their show is contemporary — although he does bust out his kilt on special occasions — and might surprise people.
“When people hear ‘Irish band,’ they think we play out a couple times in March and then we don’t hear from them the other 11 and a half months. That’s not the case,” he said. “We consider ourselves to have a lot of rock and American influences. We’re using Celtic influences within the music. We’ve done non-Celtic festival using the same set list because there is a lot of crossover within the music styles.”
March 2 kicks off with an Irish mass at 9 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Dancers and pipers will perform at the mass.
The Irish Fest Culture and Craft show will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Anna McDonald School with Trinity Knot Gifts and the Will-Grundy Genealogical Society at 10 a.m. Pianist Deborah Wyndham will perform “Melodies of Ireland” at 1 p.m.
The parade steps off at 11 a.m.
“It should be a pretty decent-sized parade,” Doyle said.
Youth and family activities at the Recreation Center include carnival games, ping pong, bean bags, a DJ, the NEO game, arts and crafts, a magician and balloons, face painting and a screening of the movie “Brave.”
The entertainment tent will have music going all afternoon, beginning with the pipe and drum groups The Emerald Society Pipes from Chicago and the Tunes of Glory Pipers from Warrenville.
Other acts include Three Men in Kilts, John Condron, Finbar MacCarthy and Fisticuffs.
Manhattan Township Historical Society will have the caboose open for visitors to explore the town’s heritage and history on March 2.
Admission costs $7 in advance and $10 at the gate. Children ages 7 and under are free. Most all of the proceeds go towards scholarships and local organizations. The admission buttons are made by Harry’s Buttons of Easter Seals in Tinley Park. Visit Manhattanirishfest.com.
The Plainfield St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be at 1 p.m. March 17. The day includes a parade, family area, pub crawl and St. Baldrick’s event.
This year’s parade features plenty of music, with four bagpipe bands slated to march in the parade. Additionally, there will be Irish dancers, other bands and community organizations in the parade, all sporting an Irish theme.
Also returning will be the downtown pub crawl beginning at 3 p.m., with stops at the Tap House Grill, Front Street Cantina, Bin 48, Moe Joes, Uptown Tap and Hop Scotch & Vine. There will be food and specials, raffles and giveaways.
A family area will be at the corner of Des Plaines and Lockport streets with inflatables, balloon artists, face painting, a coloring contest, hula hoop contest, bag tournament and more.
The 17th annual Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be at 12 p.m. March 9 at Wilson Street and Spring Road. Last year’s parade attracted more than 20,000 spectators and consisted of over 140 entries, according to town estimates.
Call (630) 834-0300 or visit Elmhurststpatsparade.com.
The St. Charles St. Patrick’s Parade will be at 2 p.m. March 16 on Main Street, from Sixth Street to Fourth Avenue.
It features Irish dancers, local businesses, high school bands, authentic Irish bands, floats and more, said Lynne Schwartz with the Downtown St. Charles Partnership, the group which now presents the fest.
“There’s a nice variety of entries in the parade,” she said.
Irish dance groups will perform at 10 a.m. at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St.
A Deck out Your Lucky Dog contest, sponsored by the St. Charles Veterinary Clinic, begins at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Municipal Center. Decorated dogs are invited to march in the parade.
Roughly 13,000 people attend the parade each year.
“We’re very excited and looking forward to a great event,” she said.
Call (630) 443-3967 or visit DowntownStCharles.org.
East Dundee’s St. Patrick’s Day parade kicks off at 11 a.m. March 16 at Rosie O’Hare’s Public House, 702 Water St. It travels south to Barrington Avenue, east to River Street, and ends at Bandito Barney’s Beach Club, 10 N. River St.
Call (847) 426-1116.
The Knights of Columbus will host a St. Patrick’s Day dinner dance and silent auction in the St. Catherine’s School gym, 845 W Main St.
The dinner dance will be from 5:30 to 11 p.m. March 2. Entertainment includes Irish step dancers and a bag piper parade, with a supper of traditional corned beef and cabbage (or chicken.)
Run a 5K and drink a beer at St. Catherine of Siena School’s annual Irish Jig Jog 5K race at 8 a.m. March 16. Post-race festivities include Irish dancing in the school gym, a pancake breakfast for all participants and a complimentary beer for runners 21 and older. Breakfast and beer will also be available for purchase.
At 9 a.m., head to Emmett’s Tavern & Brewing Company, located 128 W. Main St., to partake in its annual Keg and Eggs Breakfast Buffet from until 11:30 a.m.
The Adult Big Wheel Race will begin at 12 p.m., as participants race downhill in heats from Fourth and Washington to around Second Street.
The Follow the Firkin Parade begins at 1 p.m. Participants are invited to “follow the firkin” around the block before returning to Emmett’s for the traditional tapping of the firkin, a small wooden barrel of beer brewed for the occasion.
Experience live Irish culture when “Women of Ireland” perform at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet.
The show is at 7:30 p.m. March 7, with tickets costing between $20 and $55.
“Women of Ireland” is a full-stage concert production featuring Irish and Celtic music and a troupe of world champion dancers.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the return of Switchback at 6 p.m. March 17 at the Sandwich Opera House, 140 E. Railroad St. For more than two decades, Brian FitzGerald and Martin McCormack, known as Switchback, has performed Celtic and American roots music.
Call (815) 786-2555 or visit Sandwichoperahouse.org.