It’s not a parade without politics. Mayor Sean McDermott and elected officials marched in the parade. So did their challengers. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

It’s not a parade without politics. Mayor Sean McDermott and elected officials marched in the parade. So did their challengers. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Wearing o’ the green: Countryside St. Paddy Parade colored a success

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Students of the Harling School of Irish Dance were high stepping on Brainard Avenue.

By Steve Metsch 

St. Patrick’s Day arrived 13 days early in Countryside, but nobody was complaining. 

The city’s seventh St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held on March 4 beneath cloudy and cool skies. 

Many attending wore green. That included Zeva, a Boston terrier owned by Melanie Blando, 33, of Burr Ridge. 

Zeva was in parade mode with a green T-shirt and a bandana reading “Bark If I’m Irish.” 

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Chad Pinne stood out with his Kelly green beard and hat.

This was Zeva’s parade debut. 

“Last year, I brought my cats and they freaked out. They hated the sirens,” Blando said. 

Blando’s favorite part of the parade is “all the different people participating in it.” 

Family friend Ryan Schwartz, 13, of Countryside, who sat with Zeva and Blando, said, “Fire trucks are what I like best.” 

Fire trucks with sirens blaring, pipe and drum bands playing Irish songs, politicians stumping for votes, Irish dancers and floats decorated by local organizations formed the parade that wound its way through the city. 

But it’s more than a parade. 

It’s a way for neighbors, friends and families to get together. For many, it’s a homecoming of sorts. 

“We lived in La Grange, moved to the country 20 years ago, and we just moved back to Hodgkins,” Lee Colleran, 74, said. 

She and husband Jim Bakos, 72, sat in lawn chairs along Brainard Avenue, just south of Plainfield Road. 

“This is our first time at this parade,” said Colleran, who wore a green scarf she knitted as Bakos huddled under a green blanket. 

It was hard to not notice Chad Pinne, 45, who stood out with his bright green beard and hat. 

He and Alissa, his wife of 20 years, drove down from Waunakee, Wis., just north of Madison, for the parade. 

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Melanie Blando, with Ryan Schwartz, made sure her dog Zeva wore green.

“My sister lives here so we come down a lot. We have a niece who is an Irish dancer in the parade,” Alissa, 43, said.

They were very happy that Friday’s snowy forecast fizzled out. 

Their niece – Julie Rehmer, 6, of Riverside – performed with the Harling School of Irish Dance several times during breaks in the parade. 

Over In the 5600 block of Longview Drive, Susan Chrysokos, 63, and Travis McCluskey, 23, were among the many who enjoyed lunch served in the garage of Countryside City Clerk Liz Kmet. 

“It’s a little chillier than last year, but – you know what – it’s just a great time with friends and family,” Chrysokos said. 

“I love the parade. It’s wonderful. It’s almost the start of the new year. Party time,” she said. 

McCluskey, who wore a green Blackhawks jersey bearing the name of Jonathan Toews and sipped a bottle of a Milwaukee export, said he never misses the parade. 

“I like it a lot. It’s a whole lot of fun,” McCluskey said. “Not a lot of suburbs have crazy parades.” 

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The Shannon Rovers Pipe Band provided plenty of Irish music.

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