We're just about two weeks from the Fleadh, and Patch hears there's plenty to look forward to. Despite the dreary weather last year, the inaugural Oak Forest event was a success, and organizers are expecting the same or better turnout on Saturday, March 12.
In case you missed last year's, Patch is providing you with a list of 15 ways to make the most of the Fleadh. Print it out, grab it and bring it along!
1. Run (or walk) the Fleadh 5K. Kick off the morning at 8:30 a.m. with a brisk run or walk through the heart of the day’s celebrations on scenic Cicero Avenue. All Fleadh 5K participants will receive a long-sleeved race T-shirt, finisher medal and goody bag. Register online or download a registration form.
2. Sit and watch others run (or walk) the 5K. Notice that the 5K route is different from last year — it’s meant to draw a better crowd of supporters for the 5K participants. “Last year we had it at Midlothian Meadows and it was tight and muddy,” said Public Relations Coordinator Chrissy Maher. “There was nowhere for people to stand to see the runners, now spectators can stand in front of businesses where tents will be provided.” Get there early to stake out a spot to cheer on your favorite runner!
3. Volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering as a course marshal, water station attendant, timing assistant, or refreshment stand operator, call Chrissy Maher at (708) 687-4050, ext. 1043 or e-mail email@example.com. Request a signmeup.com confirmation.
4. Show your pride, and not just your Irish pride, but your Oak Forest pride. Purchase the official Fleadh shirt. T-shirts are available in adult ($10) and youth ($8) sizes. City Hall will accept cash or checks made payable to the Oak Forest-Crestwood Area Chamber of Commerce. Can't make it to City Hall? Watch for Fleadh T-shirts available soon at participating Oak Forest businesses. Hurry, while supplies last. You don’t want to be the only one not wearing one.
5. Leave the car, ride a bike. After the 5K and award ceremony, Oak Forest will open up Cicero Avenue to everyone from 10 to 11 a.m. “Cicero will become a one mile linear park,” said Steve Buchtel of the Active Transportation Alliance. Everyone is welcome to do what they like on the open streets—everything except drive a car.
6. Get active. The hour of a car-less Cicero Avenue is intended to beckon people out of their automobiles, for fun on their feet. Feel free to bike, run, walk, fly a kite or play hop-scotch in the middle of Cicero Avenue Only once a year can people get off that curb and play in the streets like they did as a child. Buchtel said many residents were a little scared to get off the curb last year, but he hopes to see more people on the street this year, being creative with activities on a car-free Cicero.
7. Bond with family. Is there a better way to bond with your family than by playing tag or catch in the middle of Cicero Avenue? But don’t feel limited to bonding just during Open Streets. The whole day can be dedicated to spending time with your family. Watch the 5K together, play on the streets, watch or participate in the parade as a family and patronize local businesses.
8. Meet your neighbors. The same can be said for meeting your neighbors as bonding with your family. The Oak Forest Fleadh gives you an entire day among hundreds of community members you haven’t met before or haven’t seen in awhile. “Celebrate Oak Forest and the coming of spring,” said Maher. “The Fleadh gives you a chance to enjoy your community and see your neighbors after being stuck in your homes all winter.”
9. Open Streets? What's that? Visit the ATA tent on Cicero during Open Streets to learn about similar events in the Chicagoland area. Sign up for all of the season’s bicycle rides and races at the tent just north of the viaduct at Waverly Avenue and Cicero Avenue.
10. Hang on to your 5K spectator spot! Stay put and watch as Oak Forest businesses, community and civic groups and families display pride in their Irish heritage and Oak Forest. The family parade will kick off at 151st and Cicero at 11 a.m. Look for Irish dancers, music and more entertainment. This year, Beggar’s Pizza is catering to the seniors. Seniors can watch the family parade in their own VIP section courtesy of Beggars Pizza. Beggar’s will also offer seniors a ride to their place from City Hall at 10:30 a.m.
11. March in the parade. Get a group and show your Irish pride by participating in the family parade. Registration is free to families, chamber members and community organizations. “The parade is my favorite,” said Maher. “It’s a great way to see all the Oak Forest businesses come out and showcase their business while showing pride in the community. It’s also great to see the kids watch the parade and see how much fun they’re having.” Download the registration form now.
12. Catch the Irish spirit. If you don’t get a chance to purchase your Fleadh gear, at least wear something green. Don’t forget the old saying, “Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” The same goes for the Fleadh! Wear some Irish gear, take in music and enjoy the dancers. Even if you’re not Irish you can learn about Irish history through the dances and music.
13. Pop into the pub and restaurant open house. The city once again will host a pub and restaurant open house from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. for the third year. Check out all the pubs and restaurants in the area after the parade. Each establishment will have different specials and events at each location. Maher said to keep an eye out for the tricycle relay race at Blarney Stone Pub.
Open House Venues
14. Visit Oak Forest businesses you don't frequent. Take a look at the list above and figure out which ones you haven’t visited before. If you’ve hit them all up at least once, pop into the ones you don’t usually visit. The Fleadh is all about the community so get out there and see more of your city!
15. Stay safe! Oak Forest wants everyone to have fun at the Fleadh, but to also be safe. The Best Western Oak Forest is offering special rates the day of the Fleadh and shuttle buses will run throughout the day. Visit the Fleadh site for more information.