McHenry eyes return of ShamRocks the Fox

Celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day could look pretty normal next month in McHenry, with the possibility of live music, a parade, the Fox River turning emerald green and open alcohol containers being allowed for public consumption downtown.

That is, as long as the public health region consisting of Lake and McHenry counties remains in the current Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan to mitigate the pandemic or moves into a less restrictive environment.

The McHenry City Council unanimously approved a tentative plan for the ShamRocks the Fox event on March 13 and 14, the weekend ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.

It was one of the first events to be canceled last year because of the pandemic, and city officials said they can scale its return next month appropriately to the local COVID-19 caseload at the time, which means they could decide to hold nothing at all or a full-blown festival.

No matter what they decide, there will be no children’s activities such as bounce houses and face painting.

Open beverage containers tentatively would be allowed downtown, from the Riverwalk on the south to Pearl Street on the north, and along River Road between Pearl and Lincoln Road and Route 120 to the west, from about 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of the event, meant to encourage attendees to flow into other downtown business venues.

Here are the ShamRocks the Fox events that city officials plan on holding:

March 13

  • McHenry Kiwanis Club Shamrock Shuffle 5K run, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. (Social distancing enforced on course; race registration costs $35, sign up online at
  • Fox River dyeing, 10 a.m., with viewing at Weber Park, the Pearl Street bridge and Miller Point
  • Open alcoholic beverage carry throughout downtown from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Parade, noon
  • Live music outdoors, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Miller Point (alcohol sales tent planned to be available until 10:45 p.m.; live music may be held at an indoor venue as an alternate option, officials said)

March 14

  • Live music outdoors, noon to 6 p.m., alcohol sales until 5:45 p.m. (live music may be held at an indoor venue as an alternate option, officials said)
  • Continued open alcoholic beverage carry throughout downtown from noon to 6 p.m.

Sam Lounsberry

Sam Lounsberry covers local government, business, K-12 education and all other aspects of life in McHenry County, in particular in the communities of Woodstock, McHenry, Richmond, Spring Grove, Wonder Lake and Johnsburg.