Friends Gather for Long-Awaited Celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Mercy Home

Friends Gather for Long-Awaited Celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Mercy Home

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On a frigid but brilliant blue day, a jubilant congregation representing Mercy Home processed proudly down Columbus Drive during Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Held on Saturday, March 12, the parade celebrated its 65th anniversary by returning in all its glory after the COVID pandemic first forced its cancelation in March 2020. Mercy Home was one of 72 organizations to promenade before the boisterous hundreds of thousands who lined the route.

Our flotilla of friends and supporters raised banners, waved hands, passed out trinkets to onlookers, and embraced the joy of the St. Patrick’s Day season in Chicago while extending a friendly invitation to all of Chicago to join us in Mercy Home’s March for Kids—a month-long effort to raise support and awareness that helps our young people build brighter futures.

Fr. Scott Donahue
Fr. Scott Donahue poses for a photo in front of our St. Patrick’s Day flotilla.

Despite what can only be hoped was winter’s last blast, camaraderie and friendship warmed the hearts of all, beating back the chilly air. Over two dozen supporters, board members, sponsors, friends, volunteers, and coworkers lead our Irish-themed float, a mobilized exhibit of Mercy Home for Boys & Girls’ presence in Chicago. There were shamrocks and ribbons. Hot cocoa and hand warmers. Smiling faces and laughter. Proudly donning Mercy Home’s March for Kids logo across their vests, our marchers and volunteers were unmistakable as they cheered and mingled with the throngs assembled in Grant Park.

Following the parade, the Mercy Home family made its way to Venue SIX10 overlooking Grant Park as late afternoon sunlight washed the city in gold–like the proverbial prize at the end of the rainbow. Here, guests were treated to a variety of Irish-themed festivities and food servings. This included Irish dancers from the O’Hara School of Irish Dance, the Hogan Irish Dance Academy, and the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance, as well as a live acoustic performance by Dyed in the Wool and Jimmy Keane & Pat Broaders. And no St. Patrick’s Day celebration can be complete without the rousing chorus of pipes and drums provided by the legendary Shannon Rovers.

2022 St. Patrick's Day Post-Parade Party
Patrons celebrated the day with us at the Post-Parade Party.

Meanwhile, our youngest guests at our family-friendly celebration enjoyed carnival and arcade games, prizes, balloon artists, caricaturists, and a temporary tattoo station. And while the adults warmed their bellies with delicious corned-beef sliders, children delighted in the experience of the build-your-own mac-n-cheese bar.

Like so many celebrations around the world, the return of our Post-Parade Party was put on hold just days before during March 2020. It would have been the long-awaited return of the popular event that had been a part of Mercy Home’s annual St. Patrick’s Day-themed outreach campaign for many years. But feedback from the gathering affirmed that good things are worth waiting for and we are eager to build on the success of the event in the years to come.

Our kids ride the flotilla down Western Avenue, donning some March For Kids swag.

The following day, Sunday, March 13, saw the return of another March for Kids tradition when Mercy Home again marched in Chicago’s historic South Side Irish Parade. Huge crowds came out to celebrate the return of one of the country’s grandest neighborhood-centered events. Our girls who were in attendance from the nearby Walsh Campus beamed with pride and joyfully danced to the music as our float quite literally rocked and rolled its way down Western Avenue. As always, our young women represented our Home with pride, waving to the crowd and handing out candy.

The good times and support generated by March for Kids aren’t limited to the parades. Held under different names since 1996, March for Kids uses the energy and excitement around St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago to invite more people to support our work as well as to deepen our relationships with our current supporters.

Known formerly as A Touch O’ Green and later Shamrocks for Kids, this annual outreach began when Mercy Home marched in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the mid 90’s and grew from there. The campaign now called March for Kids features promotional support from media and other sponsors as well as financial and volunteer support from leading business partners, schools, parishes and more. This year, March for Kids enjoyed a presenting sponsorship from Google. Associate Board member Maura Carr, a Google employee, served as emcee for the Post-Parade Party.

Emcee Maura Carr takes the stage to address the crowd.

Before the parades, for example, Mercy Home was again featured in lights on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower on East Randolph St. Promotional spots ran on radio partner station US99 while their morning hosts Melissa and Austin rode atop our float downtown, engaging the crowd while blaring hit country music. PSA’s featuring news anchor Alan Krashesky aired on partner television station ABC7 Chicago as did a parade-morning news segment about our March for Kids program.

As always, March for Kids provided opportunities to reach out via ads, articles, and appearances. For example, Fr. Scott spoke to WGN Radio 720 about how Chicagoans could support our mission.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower illuminates the Loop in support of Mercy Home.

The March Continues

Outreach to our faithful supporters continues throughout the month with the special offer that donations made on our website during March will be matched up to $100,000 by a generous benefactor. So March is an opportunity to make your support go twice as far!

Check out photos from our joyous celebration of St. Patrick and of Mercy Home.

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