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Irish fest parade takes over Manhattan

Taking to the streets of Manhattan, dozens of marchers not only spread cheer, but also the luck of the Irish over the weekend.

Saturday’s parade kicked off on the second day of the Manhattan Irish Fest, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“I attended the very first one, and it’s kept going that point on,” said Franklin Forsythe, the chairman of the parade committee. “It’s quite an accomplishment. It’s all volunteers that have kept this going. It’s a big opportunity to celebrate our heritage. It’s a lot of fun.”

From the craft fair and live music to rugby matches and raffles, Manhattan Irish Fest worked to entertain all. The parade, located along North and State streets, included more than 40 groups, businesses and organizations.

It also featured Disney’s Goofy and Minnie Mouse and the Chicago Blackhawk’s Tommy Hawk, among other special appearances.

This year, John and Barb Kestel served as the grand marshals, waving to crowd during the procession.

Kimberly Sarsfield, who helped organize the parade, said people tend to enjoy its sights and sounds.

“They love it,” she said. “It’s a great reception.”

Franklin Park resident Darrell Schuyler agreed, saying “I try to hit up the parade every year.”

Schuyler said he is no stranger to the Irish parades held in Chicago, either.

“I go to the downtown and South Side parades religiously,” he said.

Schuyler, who wore all green, pairing a Chicago Blackhawks jersey with a kilt, said he enjoys getting in the spirit.

“I always put on green when I went downtown,” he said. “The next year, I added the kilt. … I have a large shillelagh.”

Schuyler said the Manhattan Irish Fest parade is always worth the trip.

Downers Grove resident Colleen Kerrigan said she is pleased year after year by how impressive Manhattan Irish Fest parade is.

“I’ve been coming here every year the past three years,” she said. “It’s better than Naperville and Chicago’s.”

A 5K run came after the parade. In the entertainment tent, attendees enjoyed live performances by the Emerald Society Pipe Band, Sullivan School of Irish Dance and the Hughes Academy of Irish Dance.

Goberville said there’s a lot to like about Manhattan Irish Fest, and it’s become a tradition for him to attend for 22 years.

The festival is put on by the Irish American Society of County Will in conjunction with the Village of Manhattan.

Sponsors this year included Lakeshore Beverage, Gallagher’s Pub and Mueller Roofing.

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