NORWOOD PARK — Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido expected to kick off his campaign for 45th Ward alderman Sunday at the Northwest Side Irish Parade by marching in 14th position with his friends, family and supporters.
However, a complaint from Ald. John Arena (45th) prompted parade organizers to shuffle Garrido back to the 29th position — to ensure he didn't march directly behind Arena and other local elected officials in the annual celebration of St. Patrick's Day and the area's Irish heritage.
"It is just so petty," Garrido said. "It is a parade. Everyone is going to be drinking and freezing their butts off. No one is going to notice what position I'm in."
Parade organizer Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster, whose family founded the parade, said she moved Garrido's position in the parade after one of Arena's staff members requested the change.
"This was nobody's decision but mine," Murray-Belcaster said. "We have to follow political protocol."
That protocol requires elected officials — and candidates endorsed by the parties — to march in the parade in front of candidates, Murray-Belcaster said.
Arena's chief of staff Owen Brugh said Arena was looking forward to marching with other elected officials in the parade, which he called a great Northwest Side tradition, and was hoping for nice weather.
Arena is a sponsor of the parade, having contributed $500 to organizers, Brugh said.
Parade organizers determine the order people march in the parade, Brugh said.
Garrido, who is also a lawyer, said he signed up for the parade a week ago, before announcing his plan to challenge Arena again. In 2011, Arena beat Garrido in the runoff by 30 votes to win a seat on the Chicago City Council.
Murray-Belcaster said she did not know Garrido would be a candidate for alderman when she assigned him spot No. 14 in the parade.
"That's just the procedure," Murray-Belcaster said. "We have to follow the rules."