EDISON PARK — The North Side's St. Patrick's Day celebration isn't as well-known as the South Side Irish Parade, but at least a few South Siders are hooked.
Martina Brady, having had a taste of both, said she doubts she'll ever attend the South Side parade again — opting instead for the Edison Park area's "family-friendly" St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
"There really is no comparison. When I think of the South Side Parade I think young plastic patties [and] lots of drinking," she said. "Whereas I've been going to the Edison Park parade for almost six years and it's a place you wouldn't be embarrassed to bring your granny to."
The Ireland native hasn't lost her accent in the 20 years since she moved to Chicago and eventually became everyone's favorite bartender at the Curragh Irish Pub & Restaurant in Edison Park.
She said she remembers when the Northwest Side parade consisted of around 30 people, though it now draws closer to 1,000.
In addition to this year's parade, the small neighborhood of Edison Park will be hosting its first annual Irish Sunday Funday on March 10.
The Funday is a way to encourage local spending and community in the area, according to the Melissa Panizzi, executive director of the Edison Park Chamber of Commerce.
In contrast to the South Side Irish Parade in Beverly, Edison Park residents say both North Side celebrations are geared toward children and family activities.
Panizzi, however, said the two communities, both at the furthest north and south reaches of the city, are far more similar than they are different. Both have large Irish populations with blue-collar backgrounds as police and firefighters.
"South Side transplants come up here and they want to stay," she said. "Some marry a North Sider then become a North Sider — so there's a little rivalry there also — they come with their South Side flags."
Two Edison Park residents, Stefanie and Craig Dziedzic, did a similar version of that.
"I distinctly remember driving down one of the 'O' streets [in Edison Park] and I said to my husband, 'Do you hear that? I think it’s the angels singing because this is the perfect neighborhood for us'," Stefanie Dziedzic said.
The couple moved from Craig Dziedzic's childhood home of three generations in Garfield Ridge nearly 10 years ago. They've attended the Northwest Side parade ever since.
"But I'm still a Sox fan," Craig Dziedzic said.
While the two communities will host separate St. Patrick's Day celebrations this Sunday, residents of both said the "rivalry" is all in good fun.
"It's playful — there's no malice," Brady said. "We spent years going down to the South Side parade and spent good money doing it!"
"The South Siders will probably say 'Oh, we're more Irish than the North Siders,' and there'll be this playful back and forth — but the North Siders do it better," she said with a wink.
Joe Connelly, co-chair of the 2013 South Side Irish Parade, congratulated the North Side parade on its longevity and community spirit while drawing comparisons between the two geographically disparate neighborhoods.
"I lived on the North Side and have family there, there's really no difference between the two," he said. "Especially Edison Park — it's a very similar neighborhood, they share the same values as we do; values of family, neighborhood and our heritage — so I say the more the merrier."