DOWNTOWN — A trompe l'oeil painting of Ireland's Cliffs of Moher in Block 37 is one of several nods to Ireland illuminating Downtown this week.
The painting on the floor of the State Street mall's pedway level commissioned from local chalk artist Shaun Hays was unveiled Monday at an event kicking off "ShamROCK Chicago 2014," a weeklong series of events leading up to the official St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday.
From Monday through March 17, the ShamROCK Chicago coalition will illuminate new Downtown landmarks and buildings with green lights each day, starting with Congress Parkway and State Street.
State Street's light posts are already flying shamrock banners accompanied by Celtic music in the 18 "Lightscape" sites between Lake and Van Buren streets.
"Together we will all try to make Chicago the greenest city in the world in this week leading up to St. Patrick's Day," Marlene Byrne, president and CEO of Celtic Chicago, said before unveiling the artwork at Block 37 Monday.
"Because of Chicago's deep Irish roots, it's fitting that Chicago plays a role in the greening around the world," she added, referring to Tourism Ireland's global "greening" initiative, which will light up the Pyramids of Giza, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and other worldwide landmarks with the holiday color this week.
On Tuesday, green lights will switch on at 311 S. Wacker Drive, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower, the Wrigley Building, Trump Tower, Hilton Chicago, the John Hancock Center and the Board of Trade Building, as well as at Navy Pier, Soldier Field and the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
On Wednesday, Irish restaurants Cork & Kerry on the South Side, The Kerryman in River North, Local Chicago in the Gold Coast and O'Briens in Old Town will decorate their exteriors with green. Broadway in Chicago theaters will light their marquees green on Thursday, and Friday the United Center will do the same.
"As a true Chicagoan, I may be biased when I say Chicago is the greatest city in the U.S., but really will be a sight to see all lit up in a perfect shade of green," said Lauren Catinella, this year's parade queen at the launch event Monday. "With the collaborative efforts of the ShamROCK Chicago sponsors, we will help make Chicago the greenest city in the world, just in time for St. Patrick's Day."
A final Chicago landmark will be illuminated March 17 for the holiday. Chicagoans are encouraged to vote for their favorite on ShamROCK Chicago's Facebook page.