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Chicago turns green for Saint Patrick's celebrations

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Chicago turns green for St. Patrick's Day, being celebrated on the weekend of March 15-16, 2014. After a particularly rough winter, hardy Chicagoans welcome the first signs of spring and the chance to celebrate the arrival of milder weather during the St. Patrick's celebrations.

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There are three parades in Chicago this weekend. The Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Loop is on Sat., March 15. The South Side Irish Parade and the North Side Irish Parade are on Sunday, March 16.

Chicago is famous for for the St. Pat's tradition of dying the Chicago River (Michigan Ave. and Wacker Dr.) green for the festivities of Saturday. The river is dyed with orange vegetable dye with the help of the Plumber's Union Local and Blarney Island with the help of magical Irish leprechauns. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sat., March 15, but arrive early for a good spot, because large crowds gather for the celebration.

The Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade steps off at noon from Grant Park (Columbus and Balbo) and ends at Monroe. The parade lasts about three hours. Grand Marshal John McDonough, President & CEO of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks will lead the way, following by Irish dancers, bagpipers, marching bands, politicians and celebrants wearing green t-shirts.

The Irish-American Heritage Center (2646 N. Knox) is holding their indoor Saint Patrick's Festival following the parade on Sat The center will also hold a St. Patrick's Celebration on Mon., March 17.

The dyeing of the Chicago River and the St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Loop draws around 300,000 spectators. Public transportation is recommended to avoid traffic congestion and the high price of parking in the downtown lots.

The South Side Irish Parade, in the Beverly neighborhood, steps off at noon on Sunday. The parade starts at 103rd Street and proceeds down Western Avenue to 115th Street. The parade is a family-friendly event and alcohol is not allowed.

The North Side Irish Parade, in the Norwood Park neighborhood, steps off at noon on Sunday. The parade begins at William J. Onahan School running south on Neola Avenue to Northwest Highway, then heading north on Northwest Highway up to Harlem Avenue.

Chicago's pubs and taverns will be holding Irish celebrations during the weekend. Find a pleasant spot to enjoy a corned beef dinner, and possible a green beer, after the big celebrations.

Chicago festival guide dates and highlights for 2014

Saint Patrick's festivities and parades in Chicago suburbs