Fun fact: In 1887, the great engineers of the Illinois General Assembly reversed flow of the Chicago River away from Lake Michigan, back towards St. Louis and the Mississippi River. Because of this, Chicago uses Lake Michigan as its primary source for drinking water! Thanks to our trusty river, Lake Michigan is Chicago’s pristine bathtub, and although the murky river looks inviting, I wouldn’t recommend spending much, if any, time in that water. The river is a beautiful attribute of Chicago year-round, but there is one day per year that the river really becomes the star of the show. Chicago has celebrated St. Patrick Day for 175 years, but the second best thing to happen to our river came from Chicago’s local plumbers’ union, who have been dyeing the river a bright emerald green on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day since 1962; Chicagoans flock to the river at 10AM to witness the magical dyeing ceremony, with an official parade following the ceremony. Most every bar in the city will have a line of green shirts pouring out of the door and onto the street, and the Chicago River Walk and bridges will be overflowing with festive youngsters taking selfies.
The environmentally friendly formula for the dye remains top secret – the original dye lasted up to a month, while the new one only lasts a few hours. If you’re in St. Louis, the dye likely won’t make it down the river to you, so if you didn’t get a chance to see the florescent green river or even if you did and just want a bit of a refresher, here is brief recap of some ways that Boothies celebrated the day with pictures to boot!
Some Boothies went all in with the Windella Boat tour:
Other Boothies embraced their Irish roots via the South Side, North Side, and Loop Parades:
Folks also spent the day strolling the River Walk between State and Columbus to get a first-hand look at the river:
Some Boothies caught a bird’s eye view at a rooftop bar along the river:
A few got together for a fish fry:
But most Boothies missed the River Ceremony altogether, celebrating all together at a local bar:
Regardless of how you celebrated, Chicago is grateful to host one of the largest St. Patrick’s celebrations in the country after a year away.