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Here's When The Chicago River Will Be Dyed Green for St. Patrick's Day

By David Matthews | February 16, 2016 1:21pm | Updated on March 10, 2017 7:51am
 A boat dumped 50 pounds of vegetable-based powder to dye the Chicago River green before the 2015 parade.
A boat dumped 50 pounds of vegetable-based powder to dye the Chicago River green before the 2015 parade.
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DNAinfo/Tanveer Ali (File)

DOWNTOWN — Want to watch the Chicago River get dyed bright green for St. Patrick's Day? Here's what you need to know.

The annual tradition that somewhat signifies the start of spring in Chicago will start at about 9 a.m. Saturday, March 11. 

Officials say the best spot to view the river dyeing is the east side of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, the west side of the Columbus Drive Bridge, or on Wacker Drive between Michigan Ave. and Lake Shore Drive.

Arrive early to secure a spot. 

The river dyeing will precede a parade that steps off at noon Saturday in Grant Park. 

Early forecasts call for a chilly day with snow showers and a high of just 29 degrees. 

The tradition began in 1961, after St. Patrick's Day Parade Chairman Stephen Bailey noticed the special orange dye city officials used to detect waste in the river changed the color of the water to a perfect emerald green.

The exact formula of the powder is kept top secret. Fifty pounds of the powder is dumped into the river from one boat, while a second boat trails behind to mix the dye into the water.


"If they can dye the river green today, why can't they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?" [The Fugitive, 1993]



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