DOWNTOWN — It's that time of year again.
Chicagoans and tourists will once again descend upon Downtown this weekend to watch the Chicago River get dyed green, listen to bagpipes, and most likely, drink.
Here's everything you need to know about Saturday's river dyeing and Downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade:
When is it?
The river dyeing will start about 9 a.m. Saturday. The parade will step off at noon, though parade officials recommend guests arrive early to both events to get a good view.
Where is it?
Parade officials said the best spots for watching the river dyeing are the east side of the Michigan Avenue bridge, the west side of the Columbus Avenue bridge, or upper and lower Wacker drives between Michigan and Columbus.
The parade will step off at Balbo Avenue and Columbus Drive in the middle of Grant Park, then proceed north along Columbus. Bleachers will be open in front of Buckingham Fountain.
Where can I park?
The city strongly recommends spectators take public transit to the festivities. But if you're driving, the city says plenty of parking garages and lots can be found along Wells Street, Wabash Avenue and Congress Parkway.
Why do we dye the river green on St. Patrick's Day?
Ireland is the Emerald Isle. And the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers since 1961 have poured a secret solution, that's actually orange, into the city's main tributary to give it a glowing emerald hue.
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, according to Chicago magazine.
Who's marching in the parade?
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is the grand marshal for this year's parade, the city's 61st. A young Chicagoan named Erin Mulcahy is the parade queen. The parade will also feature the plumbers, bagpipe players, and other groups, including a host of politicians.
What's the weather gonna be like?
Temperatures should surpass 60 degrees Saturday, but forecasts also call for rain showers.
Gross. I don't want to be Downtown with all those people. Can I just watch on TV?
Yes. ABC7 will be broadcasting the parade live.
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