St. Patrick’s Day brings a huge celebration to Chicago. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that about seven percent of Chicagoans—approximately 201,500—are of Irish-American heritage. The rest of the city’s population, however, along with thousands of visitors, are ready and willing to join in the holiday and be “Irish for a day.” With the holiday falling on a Saturday in 2018, you can expect even more people will turn out for the hundreds of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the city.
The official party kicks off at about 9:00 a.m., when about 400,000 or so people will show up to watch the Chicago River turn green. Then, the St. Patrick’s Day parade will begin about noon, heading north from the Balbo and Columbus intersection. The afterparties will continue late into the night—and often into the next day, with the whole weekend becoming a celebration. The South Side and Wrigleyville are only a couple of the many popular spots to drink green beer and celebrate authentic or adopted Irish heritage.
St. Patrick’s Day provides a great celebration to bring the city together and have fun, as well as a boost for local businesses and tourism in Chicago. Unfortunately, it also marks a prime time for people to try to drive after drinking and for drunk driving accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that drunk drivers cause one-third of traffic fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the USDOT started a campaign to banish drunk driving, just like St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. Despite the best efforts of government agencies and law enforcement, however, drunk driving continues to mar this holiday with accidents, injuries, and fatalities in Chicago and across the United States.