green river

Photo via UPI

On Saturday, just before the start of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 130 took to the river in boats to dump in a temporary dye which turns the water a bright green for around 12 hours. Since Irish Americans make up the biggest ethnic group of Chicago’s 2.7 million residents, it’s no wonder that every year the St. Patrick’s Day river dying ceremony and parade attract around 1 million spectators.

The tradition has been going on, city approved of course, since 1962. It all supposedly started when a plumber was using dye to detect leaks in the river and he found that it turned colors, and thought it was the perfect shade of Irish green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In the morning after dumping the dye, the boats drive back and forth and all around the river to stir it up before it sinks, so by parade time Chicago has a completely shamrock green river. The dye appears more of an orange outside of the water and doesn’t turn green until it hits the river, but the yearly volunteers who do the decorating from the Plumbers Union are keeping the reason why a secret.

Does it kind of a little bit sort of look like some sort of frighteningly gross radioactive alien waste? Yep! It sure does. But that’s alright, because it’s also the color of a holiday where most participants are super duper drunk anyways, so it seems like everyone is kind of on aboard and excited for it.

Click through for more photo of the day posts

Would you rather visit the Chicago river with or without the St. Patrick’s Day green?


American by chance, but Roman by choice, Sarah is currently feeding her adventurous soul with expatriatism and pizza. Her finest moments are always on the wrong bus with a backpack and an upside down map, waiting to see what the world’s got for her next, so long as she can blog about it. She likes writing more than talking, dolphins more than humans, old movies more than new, and Rome more than anything else.

2 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here