Chicago officials dyed the river green Saturday morning, a long-held St. Patrick's Day tradition for the city, after denying any plans to do so earlier this week.
In an effort to curb crowd size due to the coronavirus pandemic, the mayor's office announced the event early Saturday morning with little notice to the public.
Within about 20 minutes, the Chicago Plumber's Union has dyed the entire river green, beginning at around 7 a.m.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the Plumbers Union Local 130 there were no plans to dye the river this year.
The union added that it plans to live stream a parade from an undisclosed location beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, however. Residents are encouraged to enjoy the festivities "from the safety and comfort of your homes."
Both Chicago St. Patrick's Day parades have been canceled for the second year in a row this March due to the coronavirus pandemic, city officials announced n February.
"We are working with organizers and communities to identify ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a safe manner that aligns with ongoing public health guidance," the mayor's office said.
Chicago's 2021 South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade "will not run its traditional march down Western Avenue," event organizers said.
Instead, South Side Irish organization plans to hold a "Shamrock Our Blocks" event, a home decorating contest that encourages Chicago's South Side to dress houses, light poles and cars in St. Patrick's Day green.
Chicago officials are also warning anyone who may be hosting or celebrating St. Patrick's Day that guidelines are still in place and will be enforced.
The city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection revealed plans to increase investigations heading into the weekend "and respond to complaints to ensure business compliance."
Officials urged residents to continue following public health guidelines and to avoid large gatherings.
“St. Patrick’s Day is one of greatest times of the year in Chicago, but as we enter the second year of this pandemic our celebration must look different than typical years,” BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno said in a statement. “We have to stay diligent and commit to the regulations that keep our community safe. I expect our businesses to rise to the occasion this weekend as they have throughout the pandemic, but we will be prepared to take enforcement action if necessary.”
The city reminded residents that residential gatherings are limited to groups of no more than 10 people and restrictions for businesses remain in place.
Last year, the holiday marked the beginning of the pandemic, with the city canceling its parade yet crowds still filling streets, bars and restaurants.