15 Memories and 3 Lessons – Chicago on St. Patty’s Day

St. Patty's Day Chicago

“Mama, I’m not sure where to look. I’m not sure that lady is wearing underpants.”

This is my best memory from our trip to the St. Patty’s Day festivities in Chicago in 2012, when it fell on an 80 degree Saturday in March. It was the best because that seemed my only parental “win” that day.  My then 10 year old daughter totally knew that it was inappropriate.

St. Patty's Memories

Four stops into our normal 22-stop Amtrak trek into the city, they held the doors preventing any passengers (green clad or not) from boarding the train. It was full.

Shamrock St. Patrick's Day Chicago MemoriesFull of wildly dressed Irish and not (mostly not) passengers. Full of cheer. Full of anticipation. The green river, beer, parade, dancing and debauchery were just a few hours away.

We took our kids because we thought it would be a great thing to experience (neither my husband nor I had seen it in our over 40 years of living 2 hours away). An experience it was.


Kids’ St. Patty’s Day Memories:

  • The rainbow over our pond that morning before we left
    Rainbows Leprechauns and Pots of Gold Memories
    Running to find the leprechaun!
  • Meeting up with friends
  • Eating rolls and potatoes instead of corned beef (they ran out- everywhere)
  • Revolving doors and escalators
  • Singing on the “L” train
  • The miles of walking
  • Being told by police officers that they couldn’t climb the trees
  • Being given shamrock beads and orange-framed spectacles from very “happy” leprechauns on the train platform before heading home


My St. Patty’s Day Memories-

  • Sitting in upstairs seats of the Amtrak train, facing a woman wearing a mini skirt with her feet up on the rail and knees no where near one another.
  • The stunned looks on the faces of the people left standing on the platform from stops 5 – 22.
  • The taste of the beer we enjoyed after walking what seemed like 25 miles
  • Even though it’s “Erin Go Bragh” not “Erin go BRA-LESS,” floppeta will win the day
  • The unforgettable warm wafts of pee and garbage that emerge from subway vents
  • The immensely strong desire to wash my hands, feet and face
  • Feeling like the worst parent ever for being unprepared for this experience


  1. For the unexpected, one can never pack enough snacks, cash, Excedrin, or wet wipes
  2. A big vessel to refill with water is a must no matter where you’re headed, but when it’s unseasonably warm in March, in the city, on a holiday, this can make or break the day
  3. When they allow beer on the train on the way in (at 9 am), best to pick some up to endure the ride home

Bonus lesson – what makes for a mama “mama fail” from her perspective might just be the best memory ever for the kids.

Julie Ford is a certified life coach, author, speaker, facilitator and trainer. She helps organizations support their high performers through parenting transitions. With one-on-one and group coaching, she helps her clients to define what matters most in their lives, and to realize what is and isn’t working. Collaboratively, they move through a customized plan to find more joy and less chaos in the everyday.

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