CHICAGO — Chicago is a city that loves to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and the weekend celebration rolled on Sunday with two more parades for the holiday.

One parade was held on the city’s South Side and one on the Northwest Side. Both have a history stretching back decades.

South Side Irish Parade

Things were pretty quiet early Sunday morning at 103rd Street and Western Avenue in Beverly, but it all changed by the afternoon, when a crowd of about 200,000 people celebrated the 46th annual South Side Irish Parade.

Bands, bagpipers, dancers and floats started at noon at 103rd and Western and made their way south down to 115th Street, through Beverly and Morgan Park.

The South Side Irish Parade started humbly enough, when two neighbors were sitting at the kitchen table having beers and talking about the South Town Parade from when they were kids. So they came up with the idea for the South Side Irish Parade.

The first once commenced on a rainy day, March 17, 1979, when 17 children pushed around a baby buggy decorated with shamrocks.

That buggy is still part of the parade, which is now a homecoming event for many paradegoers.

“Everybody always seems to come back,” says Marianne Rowan Leslie, chair of the South Side Irish Parade. “And it’s a day of everybody having a family reunion, finding out about new boyfriends, new girlfriends, new jobs.

“It’s just a day of really a lot of fun for everyone to have a party — a lot of parties — in the neighborhood.”

Leslie said the South Side Irish Parade is also an important event for businesses in the area.

“It’s a tradition,” she said. “It’s a huge economic driver in the neighborhood, as well. Not just for bars and restaurants, but for local businesses, sprucing up your house, getting paint, things like that.”

Ronald McDonald House Charities was the parade’s Grand Marshal, while the parade honoree was Smith Village, which serves senior citizens.

“We’re not-for-profit,” says Marti Jatis, Smith Village executive director. “We’ve been serving seniors in our community for 100 years. Residents who live in our community have raised their families in Beverly or the surrounding areas.

“Some of them have been living in this area since the parade started 46 years ago.”

“I’m a very happy, appreciative member of this Smith Village community,” Smith Village resident Alice Keane said. “It’s meant a lot to me to be there and to have this kind of recognition.”

WGN-TV had a float in the South Side Irish Parade. Ray Cortopassi, Patrick Elwood, Dina Bair, Dean Richards, Bronagh Tumulty, Alyssa Donovan and — of course — Bozo were aboard the float.

Northwest Side Irish Parade

On the other side of Chicago, meanwhile, the Northwest Side Irish Parade also kicked off at noon Sunday.

That one began at William J. Onahan School, on Raven Street in Norwood Park, then ran south on Neola Avenue to Northwest Highway, before heading north on Northwest Highway up to Harlem Avenue.

A father and daughter started the event 21 years ago with an inaugural crowd of just 200 people.

About 50,000 people were expected to attend the Northwest Side Irish Parade.

River still green

Tourists and Chicagoland residents also had the chance to experience another one of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day traditions on Sunday.

The Chicago River remains green after being dyed Saturday in the annual Plumbers Local 130 UA ceremony. Thousands of people lined the Riverwalk to watch the river get turned green.

Other cities have attempted to copy the same formula the plumbers union has used to dye the Chicago River green since 1962, but the union has kept its secret closely guarded.

“It’s mesmerizing,” observed spectator Barbara Walker on Saturday. “You can’t believe it until you see it. I’ll bring pictures back to show my class.

“It’s just amazing to see. And people don’t understand it, because no one else does it.”

When the tradition first started, the river stayed green for an entire week. Now, it typically goes back to normal within 48 hours.