Western Springs woman to reign over Irish parade
Sporting lucky number 26, Bridget McMahon Fitzgerald competes Feb. 17 in Chicago to be named St. Patrick's Day Parade Queen for 2013. | Courtesy of Dean Battaglia
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:51AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Irish eyes are smiling for Bridget McMahon Fitzgerald, crowned St. Patrick’s Day Parade Queen for 2013.
The union sponsors the contest, dyes the Chicago River green and runs the downtown parade March 16.
Fitzgerald, 24, from Western Springs was one of four members of the queen’s court a year ago.
Fitzgerald said she entered the contest because her Irish ancestry is important and she’s been attending the parade and meeting the queen for years.
“My family has been active in the Chicago community and politics for 140 years, from digging the locks for the Chicago River to my mother’s first cousin, Sen. John Cullerton,” Fitzgerald said. “And I’d like to give back to the Chicago community, sort of taking the St. Patrick’s Day parade to people who can’t be there.”
Fitzgerald called her choice of a white dress with a green belt for the contest a “bold move,” inspired by last year’s queen Sara Collins, who wore off-white to stand out in a sea of green. Selected over 82 other entrants Feb. 17 in Chicago, Fitzgerald received a crown, emerald cape and sash, and a dozen red roses.
Fitzgerald’s reign won’t be the first time Western Springs has been home to royalty. Megan Eileen Connelly, a 1998 graduate of Lyons Township High School, was crowned parade queen in 2002.
Fitzgerald works as a consultant for HumanaVitality, according to her profile on LinkedIn. She attended St. John of the Cross School in Western Springs and graduated in 2006 from Fenwick High School in Oak Park.
While earning a communications degree in 2010 from John Carroll University in Ohio, Fitzgerald served as intern for the weekend edition of the NBC Today Show and in the news department at NBC Channel 5 in Chicago.
Sherlock said the competition for queen, open to single women of Irish descent between the ages of 17 and 27, has rewarded older entrants in recent years. Such candidates have developed poise in presenting themselves and experience in fielding questions from 30 judges, he said.
Official duties of the queen and court begin Feb. 22 by extending invitations to city, county and other dignitaries to march in the parade with up to 70,000 other participants. A number of public appearances for the next month culminate with a Mass at 9 a.m. at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the parade at noon on March 16
Among other prizes, Fitzgerald will receive a trip to Ireland.