Going Green: Chicago River Officially Dyed for St. Patrick's Day

Get ready to go green Chicago! Well, for St, Patrick's Day, that is. 

For the past 65 years, the city has kicked off the St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebration by dyeing the Chicago River green -- and this year, it's no different. Except for one thing. 

Organizers are extending the river dyeing one block west to State Street so that hundreds of more spectators are able to watch the tradition take place Saturday, according to parade committee spokesperson Sally Daly.

Starting at 9 a.m., members of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 will dump about 40 pounds of environmentally friendly vegetable dye to color the water, Daly said.

The powder’s formula has remained a secret ever since its origin because “the Plumbers Local 130 believe nobody dyes the river better than they do,” she said.

What we do know is that the powder is actually not green; its original color is a deep-reddish one, which Daly claims resembles that of Paprika ground spice. That red powder then turns emerald green after it hits the water.

Although the color only lasts around five hours, Daly says the temporary look is one that hundreds of thousands of people look forward to seeing each year.

“You feel the excitement in the air as it signals the start of the celebration,” she said.

At noon, the Downtown Chicago Parade will commence and about 122 entries are expected to take part.

Daly said tourists specifically come to Chicago this holiday season because the Windy City is home to one of the largest St. Patrick’s holiday celebrations in the nation.

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