More than 31.5 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry — but everybody’s Irish on parade day in Forest Park. We may not bring 750,000 people to town like they do in Dublin, but the Forest Park Chamber’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is certainly our most popular event and our attendance numbers are just as impressive. Depending on the weather, parade attendance has reached as high as 8,000 people.

We’ll host the parade this Saturday, March 5. The Chamber chose that path – two weeks before the official day — initially to ensure that we didn’t compete with local or city parades for entrants or attendance, and to also allow for a second day of celebration. Not scheduling the parade during the ‘official’ St. Pat’s weekend brings groups of folks to Forest Park twice in March. The early date turned out to be a blessing in 2020 as we were able to sneak in the 25th annual parade just before COVID hit. Little did we know the challenges everyone would face over the next couple of years or how much we’d miss getting together for our usual events.

As with any event the Chamber hosts, sponsors are key to making this parade possible. Sponsor support allows us to continue this event and create an entertaining line-up that includes entries like Medinah Shriner’s parade units who receive an honorarium for participating. Event revenue provides about 50% of the Chamber’s income, so the generosity of our sponsors also supports the work of the Chamber.

Who are our parade sponsors? Title sponsors this year are O’Sullivan’s Public House; Fiore Pizzeria & Bakery; Ironworkers Local 1 and Riveredge Hospital.

Advertising sponsors are Mark Hanson Agency/State Farm Insurance; Forest Park Bakery; Mohr Oil; Astro Coleman Entertainment; Republic Services; REM Inc.; Ideal Facilities; Fatduck Tavern & Grill; Christopher B. Burke Engineering; Burke Beverage; Currie Motors and Smooth-ish.

Shamrock sponsors are Little Teeth Big Smiles/Children’s Dentistry; Friends of Brandon Johnson; Our Planet Automotive and the Park District of Forest Park.

Leprechaun Sponsors are Living Fresh Market, Office Furniture Center and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Mariyana Sypryopoulos.

Thank you all for supporting the 26th Annual Forest Park Chamber St. Patrick’s Day Parade!

I also want to thank every single Chamber member as well as the Village of Forest Park who each play a vital role in the success of the Chamber and our community. Together with organizations like Forest Park Arts Alliance, Historical Society of Forest Park as well as our library, park district and community center to name a few, the Chamber’s overall work helps strengthen our local economy by supporting and promoting its members, and by keeping Forest Park’s name at the forefront and driving traffic to Forest Park’s through events and marketing.

Happy parade day and happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all.