There are so many great traditions for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago. The Queen’s Contest featuring Eli’s Bailey’s and Irish Mint Cheesecake with Eli’s Maureen Schulman as a  judge, Mayor’s Daley for the Parade Committee featuring a selection of Eli’s Cheesecake’s, the visit by the Queen and her Court to Eli’s and the New Horizon Center for the Developmentally Disabled on the Day before the Parade and the River being dyed green on the day of the Parade.

The Chicago Sun Times shared some great fact about the Chicago River be dyed Green in its Saturday Edition.


• The Chicago River was first dyed green in 1962 to coincide with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That year, 100 pounds of dye — stirred up by motorboats — turned the water green for a week.

• The guy who came up with the idea, the late Steve Bailey, a former plumbers union business agent, told reporters at the time that he expected, “The Chicago River will dye the Illinois, which will dye the Mississippi, which will dye the Gulf of Mexico, which will send      green dye up the Gulf Stream across the North Atlantic into the Irish Sea, a sea of green surrounding the land will appear as a greeting to all Irishmen of the Emerald Isle from the men of Erin in Chicago.”

• The dye is a fine orange powder that turns bright green when mixed with water.

• The recipe of the vegetable-based dye is a secret.

• Each year on parade day, a crew led by Mike Butler uses about 40 pounds of dye which — depending on river currents — turns the river green for about five hours.

• The river is dyed on the Saturday of the Parade at 10:45 a.m. The best place to watch the process is on the upper bridges on Michigan and Columbus.
Eli’s Maureen and Elana Schulman went out on the cool Saturday to cheer on St. Patrick’s Day Queen, Kerry Ann Brennan, and to see the Chicago River turn Green. Thanks to Elana and Maureen for the great photos.

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