Curious Community: How is the Chicago River Dyed Green?

Abby Vanderwall, Editor In Chief

Every year when St. Patrick’s Days rolls around, the city of Chicago completes the festivities with the timeless tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green. This is surely a site to see as it spreads all the way from Wabash Avenue to Columbus Drive. While this spectacle attracts many visitors each year, our community may be curious, how is the river dyed green in the first place?

The river first underwent the dyeing process in 1962 as the idea was presented by Mayor Richard Daley and his childhood friend as well as business manager Stephen Bailey. Along with the coloring of the river, the city hosts its extravagant St. Patrick’s Day parade to celebrate.

So how does this process take place exactly? First, there is much planning and preparation and early in the morning on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day the crew meets at the boat on the North Branch of the river. Two motor boats then race out into the river. The first and larger boat is responsible for the dyeing the river and the second smaller boats follows with the top-secret powder formula that turns the water bright green. It takes about 45 minutes for the entire river to be completely green, and then it lasts for a few days as the celebration begins!