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Challenge Coins Being Sold By Morgan Park Police Before South Side Parade

By Howard Ludwig | February 20, 2017 5:42am
 Chicago Police in the Morgan Park district are selling
Chicago Police in the Morgan Park district are selling "challenge coins" before the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade. The coins cost $10 and will be used to help fund retirement parties for officers in the district.
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BEVERLY —Chicago police officers in the Morgan Park District are selling "challenge coins" before the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The coins cost $10, and proceeds will be used to help offset the cost of upcoming retirement parties for officers in the district, said Sgt. Mike Egan, who helped coordinate the fundraiser.

Challenge coins are popular in the military and elsewhere, he said. They typically bear the insignia of the issuing organization and are given to a certain group to commemorate a special achievement.

Recipients of such coins may be asked to present them upon request. Often such requests are made at a bar. By making the challenge, the issuer agrees to buy a drink for anyone carrying a coin.

But those caught without a coin must buy a drink for coin holders as a penalty for being unable to present the coin. There are also games played among coin holders that involve stealing coins from one another, according to the custom.

Egan said the challenge coins were seen as a fun way to raise money for retiring officers. Besides the parties, fellow officers also pitch in for a plaque, wristwatch and ceremonial baton.

The challenge coins for officers in the Morgan Park District also double as a bottle opener. But Egan said the coins are not meant to encourage drinking on parade day, which starts at noon March 12.

In fact, alcohol is forbidden along the parade route. Fines for those caught violating this zero-tolerance policy can cost upward of $1,000, according to the organizers of the annual event on Western Avenue.

So Egan said the bottle openers should not be used along the parade route — despite featuring a shamrock and the words "South Side Irish Parade" on the back. He also said the coins are just as effective opening bottles of root beer as they are bottles of beer.

"If people want to buy one, they can give us a call," he said.

For more information, or to buy a challenge coin from police in the Morgan Park District, call 312-745-0620.