Dyeing the Chicago River Green

My informant grew up in Chicago, IL and he says that every year on St. Patrick’s Day, they dye the Chicago River green. He explained that every year, he would be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with his family and “one second it’s blue, or grey…it’s nasty, and then 30 minutes later, it’s green.”

For 43 years now, a private company has been “dyeing” the Chicago river green. Supposedly, the tradition got started in 1961 when Stephen Bailey saw a plumber with a splendid emerald green color all over his white coveralls. Bailey asked the plumber how his coveralls got that color and he explained that the dye they used to detect leaks turned the water green. So, Bailey saw this as a start of a tradition and from then on without fail they turn the Chicago river an bright emerald green on St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s Day has always been an interesting holiday to me. It falls right around my birthday and I never liked getting pinched when elementary school boys were not able to tell the difference between blue and green.  The holiday derived in Ireland as commemoration of Saint Ireland who was associated with the start of Christianity in Ireland. Supposedly, Saint Patrick was originally associated with the color blue, but then later was set to green. There we have the addition of leprechauns, shamrocks and pots o’ gold. The holiday in Ireland set a day for church services, parades, and lifted the “Lenten restrictions” on eating and drinking alcohol. Holidays now have become less focused on its origins and more on the feasting and jovial activities.

Here is a video link: Dyeing the Chicago River

Source URLs: http://greenchicagoriver.com/story.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Day