St. Patrick's Day

UPS Driver to Play Bagpipes at This Year's St. Patrick's Day Parade: ‘I'm Very Blessed to Be Able to Do This'

Mike O'Donnell has been playing the bagpipes for over three decades and practicing during his lunch break as a UPS truck driver

South Side native, Mike O'Donnell, began playing the bagpipes at 19 years old after being introduced to the instrument by his priest.

It was the beginning of a hobby that has spanned for over 30 years.

During the last three decades, O'Donnell has played in three different bands and has competed locally and in Scotland six times. He said that his time in Scotland was beautiful and that he was blown away by the level of play there.

This year, O'Donnell said he is looking forward to playing with his band, City of Chicago Pipe Band, at this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday and at the South Side Irish Parade on Sunday. The band is also gearing up for competitions this summer.

"I'm very blessed to be able to do this and very grateful. The older you get, it gets kind of hard, but you have to schedule it in," O'Donnell said.

O'Donnell said that keeping up with this hobby hasn't been easy, and that he uses his break while working as a UPS driver to practice and improve his skill.

"I started playing in the parking lot during my lunch hour. It was perfect because it was in the parking lot...I get a 45 min workout, and it was good for everyone," O'Donnell said.

Here's O'Donnell's advice for anyone looking to play the bagpipes:

"You have to play everyday...schedule some time to pick up the instrument. If you play everyday, it becomes an extension of you, you become better, you get more proficient, and it's a lot more enjoyable."

For more information about O'Donnell and the City of Chicago Pipe Band, click here.

Chicago's St. Patrick's Day parade steps off at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 12 from East Balbo Drive and South Columbus Drive near Grant Park.

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