For the first time in two years, Chicago will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day without COVID-19 restrictions in place. Restaurants and bars have dropped their mask and vaccine mandates, and parades are ready to roll through.
“I wasn’t sure if we were going to have that feeling going back into it because it was canceled the last two years, I said this morning to somebody ‘gosh I’m really excited like it’s the first one again,'” said Elizabeth Murray-Belcaster with the Irish Northwest parade.
The Irish Northwest Parade, which kicks off at noon Sunday, is one of three major parades taking place throughout the weekend. The South Side Irish parade will also get underway at noon, beginning at West 103rd Street at Western Avenue.
Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade begins Saturday at 12:15 p.m. on Columbus Drive between Balbo and Monroe.
Bar owners and restaurant owners are among those especially excited to welcome patrons back. They are looking to get to pre-pandemic earnings and have the first in-person St. Patrick's party in two years.
“I don’t know if you know anything about Chicagoans, but we like to eat, and we like to drink,” said Matt Miller, general manager of The Fifty/50 sports bar, 2047 W. Division Ave. in Wicker Park.
While many bars, pubs and restaurants will be opening their doors at 9 a.m. and offering a full drink menu, customers are encouraged to take a break when needed.
“It’s a marathon you start at 9 or 10 in the morning. It's all about pace, you know, I think it’s smart if you even go, get a little food, take a little nap, and go out for round two,” Miller said.
The weekend full of festivities will be a chance for the restaurant industry to make up for losses, and give their employees a full day of work.
“We are going to fill the place up so it’s all hands on deck the crew," Miller said. "The crew is hungry. They are ready to work. They are ready to have some fun, operate and make some money."