Here's How The Windy City Turns Its River Green For St. Patrick's Day

TravelandLeisurePublished: March 14, 201839 views
Published: March 14, 2018

Nothing says Happy St. Patrick’s Day like people all dressed in green! The people of Chicago love it the most, for obvious reasons, so much so that they even dye their river in the familiar hue! But how exactly do they do it?

Let’s start with a bit of history. The dying of the river water tradition started somewhere in 1962, although its origins go even further back. A former Mayor of Chicago, Mr. Richard J. Daley was on a mission to make the riverfront part of the city a pleasant site. The problem was it was a terrible eyesore, with sewage draining in the river. The solution was to pour green dye into the water, so that they might discover where exactly does the sewage is being dumped.

The, in 1961, a childhood friend of mr. Daley and a member of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local, Mr. Stephen Bailey had an idea - why not dye the entire thing green? Three months later Chicagoans had the privilege to witness their emerald-colored river, when the city poured 100 pounds of chemicals into it. The river remained green for the entire week!

The practise was repeated annually by the Plumbers Local, with the only difference being the amount. Today, the magical recipe calls for 25 pound of dye for the river to remain green for one day.

The dyeing process starts at 9 a.m. on St. Paddy’s Day, when six members of the famed Plumbers Union get on two boats and using flour sifters, they spread the dye into the river. Some 45 minutes later and the Chicago River is the epitome os the patron saint of Ireland.

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