St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Chicago unlike anywhere else in the world; the city celebrates the holiday with dyeing the Chicago River an emerald green. For over 50 years, generations of Chicagoans and tourists kickoff St. Patrick’s Day with watching the dyeing of the river.

Chicago’s Green River

This unique tradition begun in 1961 when Stephen Bailey, a Business Manger of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union saw a plumber who was wearing originally white coveralls that were stained “Irish” green from dye that was used in the Chicago River. At that time flourescein dye was used to detect leaks and pollution in the river. Bailey thought it would be a great idea to dye the river green for St. Patrick’s Day and so the tradition was born in 1962. One hundred pounds of dye was poured in the river and the river was green for a week. The following years, they experimented with the amount and type of dye used; finally, perfecting the process of dying the river. Today the river is dyed with 40 pounds of environmentally friendly dye, which keeps the river green for four to five hours.