As WGN TV celebrates 75 years, we’re looking back with a series of stories on the history and the memories.
CHICAGO — With the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade set for Saturday, WGN-TV went through the tapes to find some of our old broadcasts of the parade, including the first one.
In 1956, WGN televised the city’s first downtown parade and showed 36 more up until 2008.
St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago is about more than celebrations and shamrocks: It’s the city emerging from the bleak, gray winter with a bright brush of spring.
Throngs of people originally crowded State Street. And every year, with the Shannon Rovers wailing and the river running green, the city gathers for one of its favorite parades.
For a run in the 1980s and 1990s, two Chicago icons hosted the broadcast on Channel 9: Tom Skilling and Butch McGuire, the namesake of the legendary Division Street Pub.
The parade typically stretched for more than three hours and was filled with floats, flags, marchers and music.
Thousands of people lined North Dearborn with green.
In 1993, a scene from the movie “The Fugitive” starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones was filmed during the actual parade, unbeknownst to those marching.
In a new era, the pride of Fenwick High School Johnny Latner, a Heisman Trophy winner was a staple at the parade, as was Mayor Daley.
While the hosts were the same, each year WGN used a rotating roster of roving reporters.
In 1997, Paul Konrad even interviewed a man with a shillelagh on skates.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is Chicago marching forward out of the long winter to brighter days ahead.