It will be a fitting way to start the 2013 parade.
The South Side Irish Parade Committee announced Tuesday that this year's grand marshal will be local first responders and the families of those lost in the line of duty.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon local officials and parade committee members honored those who lost loved ones in the line of duty. The families of Fire Captain Herbie Johnson, Police Officer Michael Flisk and Firefighter Walter Patmon, Jr. gathered at King-Lockhart Memorial Park on Western Avenue to participate in the ceremony.
It was a meaningful location for all those in attendence.
"It was 15 years ago last night that we had the tragic fire at this very location where we stand today," said Ald. Matt O'Shea. "Firefighters Patrick King and Anthony Lockhart lost their lives that night fighting to protect our community."
A decade and a half later, and in a year when the Beverly community still mourns those they have recently lost, first responders will have a place of honor in this year's parade.
Representatives from the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and nearby suburban forces and departments will all lead the way when the parade steps off on March 10.
“Each first responder provides invaluable service to the communities of Chicago, including the communities that come together to host this parade, so it is only fitting that First Responders are awarded such an honor,” Connelly said in a statement.
Rev. Frank Kuruncz, pastor of St. Cajetan Parish, offered a prayer before three wreaths were laid. One to honor firefighters, another to honor police officers and the third to recognize the families who unite the community together. They were laid over the words "duty", "honor" and "family".
The parade returned last year after a two year absence. Warm weather and family-friendly crowds brought out 150,000 spectators and participants. Organizers are working hard to maintain the same family focused atmosphere.
Scroll through the photos and watch the video clips to see the announcement ceremony up close.
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