“Build it and they will come,” is how Naperville resident Mo Barr described her method for organizing her neighborhood’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The march kicked off Saturday at 1:15 p.m. in the Century Farms neighborhood, departing from the Barr family garage on Mohler Court with well in excess of 100 people following a Naperville Fire Department truck.
“I just thought we needed something fun to do, since we’re just getting out of winter,” Barr said of what drove her to begin organizing the parades.
Saturday marked the third parade in the Barr’s current neighborhood, but it was only the latest in a 14-year tradition that dates back to when the family lived in Harrisburg, Pa.
After two parades in Pennsylvania, the family moved to North Carolina, where it organized another two parades.
Moving yet again because of husband Greg’s job, the family found itself living in Minnesota for seven years, but somehow managed to continue staging the annual neighborhood parades before moving to Naperville.
The tradition began in the year the Barr’s daughter, Maylie, was born and this year’s parade took place on the day she made her Confirmation at Ss. Peter and Paul Church.
“It’s a fun day to get the neighborhood together,” Maylie said of the parade.
Mo Barr noted how often her family had moved and said that the neighborhood parade was the perfect way “to get out and meet new people.”
She said the turnout fluctuated year to year, with some years having a sparse turnout, while others saw almost 200 people turn out.
Barr said that while weather was always a factor in the turnout, it had no bearing on whether or not the parade took place.
“We’re marching come rain or shine,” she said.
The route headed west on Commons Road before turning north on Conestoga Road, then winding around back to Commons before ending back in the Barr’s garage.
The garage was stocked with food and drink including corned beef, cakes and cookies, coffee of the Irish variety and even a tub of ice cold beer, which was consumed surprisingly well, given the chilly weather.
Chick-fil-A in Wheaton had two representatives on hand, Marketing Director Cindy Rambeaux and her partner “Cow,” who remained silent in his bovine costume throughout the parade and festivities.
“He’s a little confused by the corned beef,” Rambeaux said.
Barr handed out Irish-themed prizes, including Best Family Float (the Gobles), Best Irish Family (the Delange’s from Belgium), Best Irish Boy (Andrew Conwell), and Best Irish Girl (Delilah Meerman).
For some neighbors, like Bob Irvine, it was their first Barr-sponsored St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“We’re new to this,” he said, noting that the cold weather didn’t bother him much. “It is what it is.”
Lee Bruebach wasn’t put off by the weather, either, saying “you have to be OK with the weather if you’re going to live in Chicago.”