St. Patrick’s Day, The Chicago River Is An Irish Green!!

Chicago River Green 2016 3

photo courtesy of

Irish eyes must certainly be smiling again this year with the annual green dyeing of the Chicago River in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Let’s take a quick jaunt down memory lane to see how this tradition transformed the way Chicagoans view St. Patrick’s Day.

In 1962, Mayor Richard J. Daley advocated to his old school friend (and Chicago Plumbers Union business manager) Stephen Bailey, that part of Lake Michigan be dyed green to celebrate to St. Patrick’s Day.  Mr. Bailey proposed a more practical suggestion:  dye the Chicago River green instead.  Thus became a ritual steeped in mystery as to the actual concoction from which the dye is made.  The only reveal is that it is vegetable-based, environmentally friendly, and lasts a mere few days when ‘magically’ the water is revised back to its original hue.  The Chicago Plumbers Union, Local 130, have participated in the pouring of the powder ever since.

Chicago River Green 2016 4

photo courtesy of

As you can see in the above photo, the enigmatic powder is actually orange until it mixes with motion.  Ah, then the fun begins!  Approximately 40 pounds of the grit is all it takes to change the Chicago River a brilliant green.  Believe it or not, the river rears its green sheen after about 45 minutes!

Chicago River Green 2016 1

– photo courtesy of

There is a large Irish population in Chicago; however, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are for everyone; why, one look at the river and you’ll understand what inclusive really means!

  32 comments for “St. Patrick’s Day, The Chicago River Is An Irish Green!!

  1. Cassidy Frazee
    March 13, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Having lived around Chicago for 50 years, we know the river is completely inclusive. Anyone who falls in comes out looking disgusting! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 13, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      *LOL* Oh Cassidy, you just made me laugh out loud! Hehehehe I’ll bet there have been a few ‘green river guests’ who know exactly what you are referring to; no doubt!! 😉 Cher xo


      • Cassidy Frazee
        March 13, 2016 at 5:49 pm

        When I worked near the Sears Tower there was an incident where someone jumped in the river to save a person trying to kill themself. He told the papers later that (1) he got a tetanus shot, which he was told was standard for anyone who went into the river, and (2) his suit couldn’t be cleaned. It took it three different cleaners, and they told him the same: there was so much junk in the river that there wasn’t any way they could ever get the suit clean enough to wear again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • March 13, 2016 at 6:36 pm

        Oh my goodness!! I think the river is ‘somewhat?’ cleaner than it used to be, but I’m not sure by how much! Wow, what a story, Cassidy! I didn’t live in Chicago during that time, but I can’t even imagine it so junkie!! Yikes!!! Cher xo


  2. March 13, 2016 at 3:43 pm


    Liked by 1 person

  3. March 13, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    This is news to me…. quite amazing… and very, very green.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 13, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Hi Marje! Yes, it is amazing, isn’t it? And for over 50 years this has been a great St. Patrick’s Day (week) tradition!! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Josh Wrenn
    March 13, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Green dye is much better than lead! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. March 14, 2016 at 3:53 am

    What an effort for that day! Thanks for the information and the cool picture. Did not know about that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 14, 2016 at 7:10 am

      It is such a cool tradition here in Chicago, Erika! And the fact that the green dye is all vegetable-based and not harmful at all to the water is perfect! 🙂 🙂 Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 14, 2016 at 7:57 am

        It’s really cool! Thanks to you, I learned something new 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      • March 14, 2016 at 8:08 am

        Why thank you, Erika!! I think it is cool, too! Cher xo

        Liked by 1 person

      • March 14, 2016 at 9:41 am

        It is! Imagining all the people around wearing green, must be a beautiful sight to see! 💖

        Liked by 1 person

      • March 14, 2016 at 9:46 am

        It’s a sea of green, that’s for sure!! 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • March 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

        I can imagine that! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. March 14, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Pretty cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 14, 2016 at 8:08 am

      I think so too, Indah!! Thank you! Cher xo


  7. March 14, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    now way!
    that’s amazing!
    and not a cappuccino in sight 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. March 14, 2016 at 8:55 pm

    I never tire of seeing this amazing performance every year when you post this for St. Patrick’s Day. Thank you for sharing. As you know Cher; My heritage is 50% English and 100% Irish, (lol) Green Irish eyes but minus the Ginger hair! Cheers for St. Patrick’s Day !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 15, 2016 at 10:12 am

      I feel the same way, dearie! It’s incredible, isn’t it? Well cheers for St. Patrick’s Day indeed!! Cher xo


  9. March 16, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Probably all moving through the Sanitary and Ship Canal as we speak…

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 16, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      I’m sure you are correct, John! Cher xo


Comments are closed.

Mystical Prayers

“The Path of Light is a Darkness Illuminated by Faith, Hope and Charity.” ~ Mystical Prayers

Hogrider Dookes

The Thoughts And Travels Of A Geezer On A Harley ……………………………………... Looking at the World Through Teenage Eyes, But With The Cunning, Guile and Wisdom That Comes With Age!

Do Today Well

Inspirational quotes and poems on life and love to help us make the most of every day

Krater Café

Words and Images by Richard Reeve

Bridgette Tales

Everybody has a story. Here's a little of mine.

Bonjour From Brittany

Celebrating what makes Brittany unique

Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Micro of the Macro

Recognizing & appreciating our oneness with Nature

Vova Zinger's Photoblog

The world around through my camera's lens

JJJ Interactive Books

Books and Poetry

%d bloggers like this: