We're a few weeks from the Fleadh, and we're getting a bit antsy. After last year's successful second go at Oak Forest's Irish festival, organizers are hoping this year's will be another hit on Saturday, March 10. And Patch can't wait.
Maybe you have yet to attend your first Fleadh. Don't worry—Patch is providing you with a list of 15 ways to make the most of the day. 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 and goody bag. Register online or print a registration form. Runners, don't forget to bring along your nonperishable item for the St. Damian Food Pantry.
2. Sit and watch others run (or walk) the 5K. The rolling course takes runners through the city's 3rd Ward, starting and finishing at 159th and Cicero. Friends and family can cheer you on at one of several viewing stations along Cicero Avenue. Get there early to stake out a spot to cheer on your favorite runner! This year, runners can expect chip timing, more tents, more port-a-johns, and a free beer at one of our post-race venues on Cicero Avenue.
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.
4. Show your pride, and not just your Irish pride, but your Oak Forest pride. Visit local businesses participating in the pub and restaurant open house, and help keep local dollars in Oak Forest.
5. Leave the car, ride a bike. After the 5K and award ceremony, Oak Forest will once again open up Cicero Avenue (like last year) to everyone from 10 to 11 a.m. For one hour, Cicero Avenue will be closed to cars and will become a "one-mile linear park." 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.
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. The event gives residents a chance to send winter packing and welcome spring together.
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 157th Street and travel along Cicero Avenue to 151st Street at 11 a.m. Look for Irish dancers, music and more entertainment.
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 a great way to see all the Oak Forest businesses showcase themselves while showing pride in the community. 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. Don't miss the customer appreciation specials that start earlier in the day, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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 a rate of $69.99 plus tax the day of the Fleadh and shuttle buses will run throughout the day. Visit the Fleadh site for more information.