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You’d think they could dye it blue the rest of the year

By Rachelle Bowden in News on Mar 14, 2005 1:08PM

Green River by Archie FlorCruz

On Saturday, crowds gathered along the Chicago River to watch as a speedboat dumped green food coloring into the water in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. The History Channel tells us that the tradition started in 1962 when some city plumbers used dyes to trace illegal substances that were polluting the river. They then realized that the green dye might make for a cool way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. That year they dumped 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river. It was so much that the river stayed green for a week.

These days only 40 pounds are used and the river only stays green for a few hours. Only a couple people know the ingredients of the dye, but Chicagoist hears that it's environmentally friendly and contains a special algae that first turns the water red then bright green.

An hour of gazing into the green river and it's time for the parade. Luckily it was sunny both Saturday and Sunday for the north and south side parades, even if it was still freeeeezing out. Coulda been worse.

For photos of the dying of the river and the parade festivities, check out Whateverland (including the photo above) and Flickr. If you've got some photos you'd like to share, drop a link in the comments!

Photo by Archie FlorCruz