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Traditional Irish music, parades, 5K races and green as far as the eye can see abound as St. Patrick’s Day approaches. Everyone is a little bit Irish.
Some actual Irish folks will be coming to town when the critically acclaimed traditional Irish musical group Danú performs at 6 p.m. March 13 at the McAninch Arts Center on the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.
Hailing from Counties Waterford, Cork, Dublin and Donegal in Ireland, Danú formed in 1995. When Diana Martinez, director of the McAninch Arts Center, saw Danú perform in New York, she knew she had to book the ensemble.
“When I did some research on them, I realized they’re the real deal. They’ve toured all over the world, all over Europe, they’re from Ireland,” she said. “What I like about them is they’re not your typical Irish folk band that just plays the popular top hits from now. They go back all the way to the ancient music of Ireland and give you the history of Ireland through their music.”
The group uses traditional instruments like the flute, tin whistle, fiddle, button accordion and bouzouki; and sings in both English and Irish.
“With the instruments that they play, they can create the older sounds. For people who love traditional Irish music, they will go crazy for them. And for people who love popular Irish music, they’re going to really love them too. On top of it, they’re really respected in their industry. They’re really fine musicians and I think that is articulated in their performances — the music comes first.
“It’s really a beloved troupe all through Ireland and if you haven’t heard them and you like Irish music, it’s truly a treat to hear this band. They’re really amazing.”
She believes audiences are sure to enjoy the show.
“It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s time to celebrate this music and this culture. We’re going to have drink specials in the bar and before the show, Trinity Irish Dancers are going to be in the lobby performing to get everybody in the mood,” she said. “I think people are going to really enjoy the night. It’s a wonderful time to embrace this culture. I enjoy the Irish culture and people and humor and all of it. I think everybody does — we’re in Chicago with such a huge Irish population. It’s only fitting that we honor them.”
Before you make the corned beef and cabbage, here are five things to do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
1. Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day parade: 12 p.m. March 5, Wilson Street and Spring Road in Elmhurst. 630-834-0300; elmhurststpatsparade.com.
The 25th annual Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day parade begins at the intersection of Wilson Street and Spring Roads and continues north on Spring Road. The parade features floats, bands, bagpipers, Irish dancers and animated characters along with community organizations and local businesses marching down a mile-long stretch.
The parade will include Irish dancers, the York High School Marching Band, the Shannon Rovers, Chicago Highlanders, Medinah Clowns and team mascots Benny the Bull, Southpaw and Tommy Hawk. The Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra, featuring the world’s largest drum, named “Mary,” returns for the 12th year — as Parade Grand Marshal.
The Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra plays familiar tunes like “When the Saints Go Marching In” on kazoos, bucket drums, vuvuzelas, cowbells, Stumpf fiddle and other unconventional instruments. The group has raised nearly $20,000 for causes such as cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, the Elmhurst Hospital Cancer Center and college scholarships for York High School music students.
2. East Dundee St. Patrick’s Day: March 12. Tickets are free. 847-426-2822; dundeestpats.org.
Events include the Thom McNamee Memorial St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Dublindee Kilted 5K Run and Walk. The Kilted 5K starts at 8 a.m. at Lifeline Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, 296 Williams Place, Eaar Dundee, and runs parallel to the Fox River along Duncan/Elgin Avenue (running) and the Fox Valley Bike Path (walking).
The Pet Parade begins at 9 a.m. at East Dundee’s Depot. The Thom McNamee Memorial Dundee St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be at 11 a.m. and feature Irish dancers, bagpipers, bands, community organizations and more.
Fireworks by Bandito Barney’s will be at dusk March 19 at the footbridge over the Fox River than connects East and West Dundee.
Yorkville’s annual St. Patrick’s Celebration will feature a 5K race, Lucky Leprechaun Hunt, character meet and greets, a fireworks show and live music throughout the day.
The Gleeson Irish Trio performs at 12 p.m. at the Law Office Pub and Music Hall. Downtown bars and restaurants like The Law Office Pub, Southbank BBQ, Rowdy’s, Butcher Block 360, Paradise Cove, Parma Pizza, Suzy’s Bar and Grill and Roadhouse Route 47 will offer food and drink specials.
4. Naperville St. Patrick’s Day Parade: 10 a.m. March 12 at the south parking lot at Naperville North High School. Tickets are free. 630-457-1943; wsirish.org.
The parade continues south on Mill St. to Jackson, heading over to Main St. and ending at Water Street. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a family event celebrating Irish heritage and culture, annually attracting thousands of participants and spectators to downtown Naperville.
5. Danú St. Patrick’s Day Celebration: 6 p.m. March 13 at the McAninch Arts Center, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn. Tickets, $50-$60. 630-942-4000; atthemac.org.
The group, which hails from Ireland, performs a program of traditional Irish works from their many albums.
Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.