For the past 60 years, the City of Chicago has dyed the Chicago River a bright green hue, painting the town in St. Patrick’s Day cheer.
This year the river dyeing, which dates back to 1962, and all other parades and Irish festivities including marching bands, bagpipes, dancers, and the whole explosion of green will be returning to the Loop as well as Chicago’s South and Northwest Side for the City of Chicago’s 2023 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The river dying tradition that’s been taking place since 1962 has prompted thousands of people to line the riverwalk and crowd Chicago’s bridges.
In 2020, the traditional parades and river dyeing were halted as festivities were called off, depriving the city of the annual jubilance that erupts around St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. In 2021, though parades were canceled for a second year, the City of Chicago surprised residents by dying the river green overnight having only weeks before announced that the Chicago’s 2021 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and river dyeing were again canceled. In an effort to keep the tradition alive while avoiding crowds from gathering on the riverfront, Mayor Lightfoot gave the green light for the annual spectacle to happen so long as Chicago didn’t know about it.
This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on March 17th but the river will undergo a dye job on March 11th, kicking off the celebrations at 10 a.m. as The Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130 will once again turn the river emerald green using a vegetable-based and environmentally friendly dye which will then be followed by a gigantic annual parade in Grant Park at 12 p.m.
The first three-hour celebration features the Loop parade, which is on Columbus Drive, starting at Balbo Drive and finishing at Monroe Street. The Northwest Side Irish Parade and the South Side Irish Parade will then take place on Sunday, March 12, from noon onwards. The South Side parade will set off from 103rd Street and Western Avenue and proceed south along Western Avenue to 115th Street.
The Northwest Side parade will set off from William J. Onahan School, 6634 W. Raven St., and proceed along N. Neola Avenue to N. Northwest Highway to Harlem Avenue.
As for the best places to watch the river dyeing:
- Grab a spot at the Chicago Riverwalk
- Crowd around the Michigan Avenue Bridge
- Or the State Street Bridge
- Or the Columbus Drive Bridge
- Find a spot on Wendella St.
- Book a river cruise for an on-the-scene look.