What beer, ocifer?
Planning to be your own one-man boozy party for St. Patrick's Day? Here's what you need to know before you BYOB to the South Side or downtown parades.
What’s the ideal mode of transportation for a self-contained bar such as myself?
We assume you’ll be all over the brewskies like Blago on a stray dollar bill, so leave the car keys at home. Of the many bar-sponsored buses carting revelers to and from the South Side parade, a few are BYOB, including those operating from Kincade’s ($25; 950 W Armitage Ave, 773-348-0010) and O’Donovan’s ($25; 2100 W Irving Park Rd, 773-478-2100). If your backpack o’ booze isn’t sufficient for the trip from Casey Moran’s ($12; 3660 N Clark St, 773-755-4444), don’t fret; the bus also sports an onboard keg. For a more frugal way to imbibe in transit, jump on the Metra. After closing its bar cars last fall, Metra has kept its trains BYOB.
If everyone is drinking on the sidewalk, I can’t possibly get in trouble, right?
Not exactly. A Chicago Police rep maintains the department’s official position is, of course, to enforce open-container laws, which carry fines from $75 to $500. Faced with the mighty challenge of patrolling the alcohol consumption of some 300,000 green-bedecked revelers, however, the cops have to go easy. “They don’t want to be the gestapo,” says Kevin Sherlock, a union plumber who has organized the downtown parade for the past six years. “I’ve seen the police warn people, ‘Hey, watch the beer,’ and if they catch you with it again they’ll usually just confiscate it.” Like the police, Sherlock has resigned himself to the tradition of spectators getting boozy during the parade. “Just be discreet,” he advises.
What the hell does public intoxication mean, anyway?
A shining example of punishable public intoxication: Last year, a 34-year-old dude was arrested after jumping into the Chicago River as the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers ceremonially dyed the water green. The municipal ordinance on drunk and disorderly conduct, says local defense attorney Robert Loeb, refers not to specific blood-alcohol content (like a DUI), but to your actions while over the limit. Police typically don’t pick people up, Loeb says, for conduct as small as doing the sidewalk stagger, but “being so publicly intoxicated that it’s interfering with others and creating a commotion” can result in a maximum $500 fine.
What’s the most inconspicuous BYOB spot along the parade route?
Sidewalk drinkers can blend in among the masses at the downtown parade, but on the South Side, the line between G-rated fun and R-rated revelry is clearly drawn: The east side of Western Avenue is family oriented, and the west side is party row, where red-faced, Mardi Gras–bead-draped folks spill out from numerous bars.
What’s the best way to keep my brew on the DL?
Sherlock muses about the time a couple of years ago when he spotted a tubby guy at the downtown parade pushing an odd-looking baby stroller down the sidewalk. The cops stopped the man and discovered he was rolling a pony keg outfitted with plastic doll arms and legs. Like the keg stroller, that green Big Gulp–size water bottle filled with Jameson and Coke wouldn’t fool a three-year-old. But with chilly temps expected during the parades, the fuzz won’t bat an eyelash at your grande Starbucks cup of “coffee.” Or hit up Prankplace.com for a pair of Barnoculars ($19.89), “the binocular-shaped flask.”
The downtown Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade departs Saturday 14 from Balbo and Columbus Drives at noon; the South Side Irish Parade begins Sunday 15 from 103rd Street and Western Avenue at noon.