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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago with a green river and parade

Chicago will turn it's river green for St. Patrick’s Day once again. Every St. Patrick’s Day the Chicago river turns green and the tradition continues this year. Since 1962, Chicago has colored it's river green to mark the holiday.

Members of the plumbers' union dye the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day on March 17, 2012.
Brian Kersey/Getty Images

With this winter’s cold weather, ice has accumulated on the river. Many were asking if they would still be able to dye the river under these conditions. However weather forecasts are predicting warmer days. With Monday’s temperatures reaching 50 degrees, Chicagoans will be able to see the river turn green.

Starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15 the crew will once again dump the dyes. The best place to view this phenomenon is between Columbus and Wabash. Any of these spots are ideal for viewing: the East side of the Michigan Avenue bridge, the West side of the Columbus Drive bridge or upper and lower Wacker Drive between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive.

WGN News reported, “It’s cold and miserable on the water, but the big job always turns out to be a lot of fun, and they always get it done.” It takes a team of eight to turn the waters over to that pivotal St. Patrick’s Day green. Split into two boats, the crew dumps the dye between Columbus Ave and Wabash. The process takes about 90 minutes.

Most people may not realize but dyeing the river green is not funded by the City of Chicago. The Plumbers Union, Local 130 funds the operation and since 2007, they have been selling t-shirts to defray some of the costs. For more information on how this process began, check the Green Chicago River website.

In addition to the river turning a festive green on Saturday, the St. Patrick’s Day parade will kick off at noon. The parade starts at Balbo and Columbus and will proceed north on Columbus Drive. For best viewing, a stand will be located in front of Buckingham Fountain. This year’s St. Patty’s parade Grand Marshal is John McDonough, President and CEO of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.

It is highly recommended to take public transportation to these events and the parade will commence no matter what the weather.

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