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St. Patrick’s Day, Urbana-style

St. Patrick's Day, Urbana-style

Champaign has Unofficial, the love-it-or-hate-it daylong festival of debauchery held two weeks before St. Patrick’s Day, thanks to the Campustown bar owners who decided back in 1984 they had to do something to get money out of the University of Illinois students who flee town for Spring Break just before that magical day when everyone’s Irish.


And since 2017, Urbana has had The World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Well, not just Urbana; there are several cities across the country laying claim to that title, and while I can’t verify that Buffalo, New York, does indeed have the tiniest parade, it seems they at least got there first, since their shinding is now in its 37th year.

Like every parade, this was partly a showcase for local businesses — but it was also a quirky, quintessentially Urbana affair.

The pre-party was held at Sipyard, the beer garden that’s part metal container, part outdoor art gallery. The brews were provided by Riggs Beer Company, and when it came time to parade, the Riggs brothers, Matt and Darin, went goofing around on a bicycle, looking like they were having a grand time of it. And the leprechauns were kids wearing carboard boxes painted green, courtesy of The Idea Store, the let’s-reclaim-everything outlet at the Lincoln Square Mall a few blocks away.

As the fire truck that closed the block-long parade made its way down Main Street, the crowd was urged to get off the sidewalk and follow the parade, and people happily obliged, some with beers in hand — and unlike at Unofficial, nobody had to get hauled away by police.

Music by TecknoAXE (CC BY 4.0)

Sergio Barreto

Written by Sergio Barreto

Sergio's American life began as an exchange student in Lincoln, IL. After more than 20 years living up North, writing for outlets such as The Chicago Reader, organizing & promoting cultural events and what-not, he had it with the big city and moved back to Central Illinois. He currently edits financial newsletters, in addition to designing and maintaining websites like this one.

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