All Systems Go For Greening Of Chicago River

Nancy Harty
March 13, 2018 - 6:01 pm
Chicago River Green

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Organizers are planning a few changes for this Saturday's dyeing of the Chicago River. 

The 55-year-old St. Patrick's Day tradition will be expanded by one block, James Coyne with Plumbers Union Local 130 said Tuesday.

An additional boat will help spread dark orange dye that turns the river a bright green, starting at Columbus Ave and heading west to State Street.

The longer route will give more people a chance to watch from the city's recently expanded riverwalk.

Coyne says the dyeing begins at 9 a.m. and will include three water taxis this year that will spray the colored water into the air.

He estimates between 150,000 to 200,000 people come out to watch the unique tradition.

Coordinator Pat McCarthy said volunteers will use flour sifters to spread the dye, which he says has the consistency of clumpy powdered sugar.

Afterwards, the parade will kick off at Balbo at noon and proceed north on Columbus, led by Grand Marshal Alderman Patrick O'Connor and Guest of Honor, Illinois State Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke. 

Parade Queen Mary Kate Manion and her court will join 121 other parade performers, including groups from 10 different states.

The parade is a big tradition in her family, which is also Italian, she said.

Manion plans to bring her Italian grandmother, saying everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's day.

The union estimates upwards of 800,000 spectators come out for the parade and there could be more since it falls on the actual holiday this year.

If you miss the river dyeing, keep in mind that the union says that bright green color sticks around for one to two days depending on the weather.