I have always heard turning the Chicago river green – In 2014 I was lucky enough to witness that. We moved to Chicago in early March and St. Patrick day was on March 16th. We decided to explore the st patricks day celebration on foot. The dying of the Chicago river normally happens in the morning marking the official start of the celebrations in Chicago city. Its always better to reach the loop using the CTA trains and heading towards the bridge – Merchandise Mart or Washington/wells being the best when riding the brown line. The dyeing starts at 9 am, so it better to be early if you really wan to see it happen.
Digging a little history around the concept of dying the river, the tradition is been there for the last 40 years and is led by the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers. Officially this is how it started “In 1961 Stephen Bailey was approached by a plumber who was wearing some white coveralls, they knew this only because they could see some of the original color. These coveralls had been mostly stained or dyed a perfect shade of green, an Irish green to better describe it. It was when Stephen Bailey asked how the coveralls got this way, that they discovered that the dye used to detect leaks into the river turned green, not just any color green, but the perfect color green.”
So how do they turn Chicago river green or what makes Chicago river green ? They add green dye to a section of the river. Please find the video below which clearly shows how the crew add the dye to the water and make it all green.
The st patricks day celebration also includes a magnificent 2-3 hours long parade (which can be best viewed from the East side of the bridge at Columbus Drive or upper and lower Wacker Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive), lot of Irish food and of course Irish Beer (Yes, Chicago gets really drunk – all the bars gets packed)