For more than 50 years, the local plumbers union has dyed the Chicago River emerald green, on the Saturday closest to St. Patrick’s Day, in observance of the holiday.

The recipe they use is a closely guarded secret. This past Saturday, at 9:15am, the plumbers boarded a boat and began spreading the 50 lbs of vegetable dye from the Columbus Ave Bridge west. Hordes of people come to watch the event, many of them already drunk from the pub hopping done beforehand. Green is everywhere, decorating storefronts and bars, and people and the river. The river stays green for several days, though the bright green of it fades faster. Here are some pictures from the dying of the river, and the following day, when the drunk and disorderly crowds had dissipated.

plummers boat


  • green river

view of michigan ave bridge

view from michigan ave bridge

river view



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