Alderman: Hike fines at South Side parade or 'idiots will come back'
Spectators watch the 2012 South Side Irish parade. (Nancy Stone, Chicago Tribune / October 31, 2012)
Under a proposal Ald. Matthew O'Shea introduced to the City Council Wednesday, fines for having open liquor on the street or public urination or defecation would increase, from between $100 and $500 to between $500 and $1,000, if the offenses were committed within 200 feet of a parade in progress.
And minors arrested for public intoxication or for purchasing alcohol near a parade would face a $500 fine or 25 hours of community service -- up from fines of $25 to $100 -- as part of a plan O'Shea said will help prevent a return of the fights and arrests in 2009 that forced the parade to be canceled for two years.
The giant March celebration in honor of St. Patrick's Day drew as many as 300,000 revelers from around the Midwest to Western Avenue in the Beverly neighborhood in years past, but residents and police got fed up with the huge, alcohol-fueled crowds. After 54 arrests in 2009, the South Side Irish Parade shut down until this year.
The 2012 edition was smaller and calmer, and O'Shea, 19th, wants to make sure that remains the norm.
"We were very successful this year, but in working with law enforcement officials and people that worked on the parade, everybody was in agreement: last year was great, we didn't have any real problems, but the idiots will come back in '13, '14 or '15. It's just a matter of time," O'Shea said.