BEVERLY — The South Side Irish are having a party to raise money for an even bigger celebration.
The South Side Irish Parade Pre-Party is set for 3-8 p.m. on Feb. 22 at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park. Tickets cost $30, which includes a buffet, beer, wine, pop and entertainment.
Money raised at the event will help offset the cost of the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade. The annual march down Western Avenue steps off at noon on March 16.
“The pre-parade fundraiser helps us create excitement for the parade while also raising funds needed to help put on the parade. The cost of presenting the parade in a safe, family-friendly way has risen dramatically in recent years," said Kevin Coakley, co-chairman of the parade committee.
The parade returned in March 2012 after a two-year hiatus. Bringing back the parade meant spending additional money on increased security, more portable toilets and other improvements to help with crowd control.
The parade committee is tasked with raising $200,000 to pay for these resources, which helps maintain the event's zero-tolerance alcohol policy, Coakley said.
Some 600 people attended the pre-party last year, raising roughly $25,000 toward the parade-day tab. Organizers hope for an even bigger crowd this year, spurred by returning favorite Irish rockers Sean and Charlie and an acoustic set by the Matt Ladd Band.
The selection of the South Side Irish Parade Queen will also be announced at the pre-party. The queen will be prominently featured during the South Side parade and also will ride in the downtown Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The winner will also receive sponsorship from the South Side parade committee to go on to compete in the Chicago Rose of Tralee contest as the South Side Irish Rose on March 29. The winner of the Chicago Rose of Tralee will receive an all-expense paid trip to Ireland.