St. Patrick’s Day – River dyed green in Chicago

March 16, 2022
St. Patrick's Day

It’s great to see everybody smiling on the streets.

David Rocas, an onlooker who attended the annual green-dyeing of the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day.
  • To celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the Chicago River was dyed green on Saturday. This is the 60th anniversary of the unique tradition; thousands watched as 3 boats worked to dye the river.
  • How It Works: The Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130 has a "secret sauce" they use to turn the river temporarily green. The "leprechaun dust" is derived from vegetables and considered environmentally friendly.
  • For a timelapse video of the Chicago River turning green: The Chicago Tribune's Instagram reel.

Why It Matters: St. Patrick's Day is a popular Irish (and Irish-American) holiday, and is now celebrated by many around the world — especially throughout North America and Australia. It commemorates the traditional March 17 death of Patrick, a missionary bishop and the patron saint of Ireland, who died around 492.

Did You Know? While Ireland is known as the "Emerald Isle," the tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick's Day actually began in America. The color green in the Irish flag symbolizes nationalism; Irish Americans began wearing green as a reminder of their Irish roots. It has also taken on the mythical belief that wearing green makes people invisible to leprechauns.

The Chicago Tribune's coverage of the event

How the river is dyed green

Why do we wear green on St. Patrick's Day

Leprechaun dust & environmentally friendly

For more about the history of St. Patrick's Day: Library of Congress

by Jenna Lee,

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