BEVERLY — Shannon Reilly Zofkie is the latest Beverly native to receive a tiara and sash ahead of St. Patrick's Day.
Zofkie, a student at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind., was named the 2017 South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade Queen on Saturday. She'll be among those leading the neighborhood parade that begins at noon March 12, marching through Beverly and Morgan Park.
Zofkie will also participate in the 2017 Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade. Maura Connors, who was also raised in Beverly, was crowned in January as queen of the Downtown parade, set for noon on Columbus Drive.
Maggie McEldowney will participate in both parades. She was named Ireland's 2016 Rose of Tralee Aug. 23 in County Kerry, Ireland. McEldowney, another Beverly product, was the first "Chicago Rose" to receive the international honor in 29 years.
Both McEldowney and Connors graduated from St. Barnabas Elementary School in Beverly. Zofkie is a product of St. John Fisher Elementary School in West Beverly and Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Mount Greenwood.
McEldowney attended Marist High School in Mount Greenwood and returned to her high school alma mater to work as a fundraiser. She is a resident of the South Loop and also a graduate of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
Zofkie and was watching online as McEldowney won the Rose of Tralee. She cried tears of joy when McEldowney's name was called. Zofkie, 22, has competed in the Chicago Rose pageant since she was 18.
This is her third attempt at being named South Side Irish Parade Queen. As a result of her win, the parade organizers will sponsor her as the "South Side Irish Rose" in the upcoming Chicago Rose pageant April 8.
"I've met so many well-rounded women, and we are all so proud of our heritage," Zofkie said Tuesday.
For her part, Zofkie is an accomplished Irish dancer who will compete in the North American Irish Dance Championships July 4-9 in New Orleans. She is also vice president of the Notre Dame and St. Mary's College Irish Dance Team.
Zofkie learned how to play the fiddle at the former World Folk Music Co. in Beverly. She also studied abroad for six months at Ireland's Maynooth University — this was the only time she missed the South Side Irish Parade.
Mairead Zigulich of Beverly has known Zofkie since preschool and smiled brightly upon learning her friend and former classmate had been named parade queen. She also wasn't surprised at the recent streak of women from Beverly to receive similar honors.
"I think it just shows how ingrained the Irish culture is here on the South Side," Zigulich said.