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St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Chicago

The Irish have a long and storied history in Chicago. The Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day is the day that all of Chicago’s Irish and I suspect a lot of non-Irish pretending to be Irish come out to celebrate Ireland.

The Chicago River still frozen in March
D Boehm
Chicago River Dyed Green
D Boehm Photography

The festivities begin on Saturday March 15th, at 9:30 in the morning. Dyeing the Chicago River green has long been a fun if somewhat silly tradition. Workers in small boats throw dye into the river, between the Michigan Avenue Bridge and Columbus Drive, turning the river from a dark green into a bright Irish green. This year however they may be dyeing the ice green as the river is still partially frozen. The real fun is the massive crowd that shows up to watch. There will be tens of thousands of people packed 5 deep to watch.

Once looking at a Green River gets old the crowd breaks up into two groups. The families head south on Columbus to watch the parade which begins at noon, while the twenty and thirty year olds head to the bars. The bars, especially anything with an Irish name, will be packed before 11:00. The celebration lasts well into the night and crowds of loud people who have had more than one too many glass of green beer are everywhere.

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