Green beer, green donuts, green shirts -- green everything. The world is suddenly awash with emerald, viridian, aquamarine, olive, and lime on St. Patrick’s Day. Well, at least figuratively speaking. In Chicago, however, the flood of green gets a bit more literal, when the city dyes a major stretch of its namesake river bright green to celebrate the holiday.
Thousands of St. Patrick's Day weekend revelers gathered along the eastern branch of the Chicago River for the more than 50-year-old tradition of dyeing the water green on Saturday. And in short order, the river turned an alarmingly green hue that's oddly similar to that of wildfire from Game of Thrones or what you'd imagine nuclear waste to look like. It was beautiful.
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As we explain in a helpful breakdown of how Chicago dyes the river green, the Chicago Plumbers Union first colored the river in 1962, when Chicago Plumbers Union business manager Stephen Bailey originally had the world-famous idea. To be clear, the green color isn't coming from some sort of hazardous waste. It's actually more like food coloring, but in the form of bright orange powder that results in a green color when it mixes with water. They use a small fleet of boats to dump 40 pounds of the stuff into the water and mix it in from bank to bank. It lasts for about 24 to 48 hours.
After that, the Chicago River returns to its murky brownish-green color.
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