The River Run Green: Chicago’s Tribute to Saint Patrick’s Day


Every year Chicago dyes it’s river green for Saint Patrick’s Day. This neon waterbed points right towards Ireland. These two things, however, are unrelated. In fact, the reason for using green dye in the first place was because the river was so disgusting!

Back in the 50s, Major Richard Daley was tired of looking at a dirty river and sought to decrease pollution. The solution was to use tracer fluid. By pouring this mix into the water it allowed plumbers to trace the source of the pollution. One day in 1962 Stephen Bailey, Plumbers Local union member and friend of Daley, got the idea to spread the solution throughout the river and turn it completely green. The river has run green every year since.

Sounds cool, but how do they dye the river? The Plumbers Local union takes a couple boats on the river with about 50 pounds of dye. The solution is shoveled into the water while the boats swerve back and forth acting as mixers. The water keeps its color for a day.

Chicagoan will be crowding the bridges and river walks early on March 16; space will be limited. Don’t tell anyone we told you this, but we know a couple river-side restaurants that will have special events for the dyeing. City Winery, Marshall’s Landing, and Trump Tower are great start. The Island Party Hut has brunch and a special tiki boat tour event. Wendella and Chicago Line Cruises also have tour events planned. If you’d rather have a bird’s eye view you can check out LondonHouse and Raised for rooftop viewings.

Grab your Guinness, wear green, and start ‘gramming!


Check our our blog for more things to do on Saint Patrick’s Day!

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