DOWNTOWN — It's going to get real Chi-rish this weekend.
The 60th annual Downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade will step off at noon Saturday at Columbus Drive and Balbo Avenue in Grant Park. The parade will head north on Columbus to Monroe Street, with Buckingham Fountain designated an official viewing station.
As always, the parade will be preceded by the dyeing of the Chicago River.
Since 1961, the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers have poured a secret solution — that's actually orange — into the Downtown tributary to give it a glowing emerald hue. The dyeing will begin at 9:15 a.m., with the riverfront corners of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive suggested as the best vantage point to watch the river's transformation.
If you're lucky enough to secure a spot, the east side of the Michigan Avenue bridge and the west side of the Columbus bridge are great places to see it. Upper and Lower Wacker between Michigan and Columbus are also excellent.
The river-dyeing tradition began after parade chairman Stephen Bailey noticed a special dye city officials used to detect waste in the river changed the water to a perfect emerald green.
Lauren Corry, a 28-year-old teacher from Wheaton, is this year's parade queen. William P. Hite, the general president of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, will serve as the parade's grand marshal.
Admission is free, and the parade will be broadcast on local television. City officials urged spectators to get Downtown early for the events, as well as to take public transportation.
What's the weather going to be like? The national Weather Service says sunny with a high of 49 degrees.
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