Monday, March 17, 2008
Here in Chicago we have our own Irish traditions. We have parades and parties like everyone else, but we also dye the Chicago River a beautiful emerald green.
The Story Behind Dying the Chicago River Green
by Dan O’Leary courtesy ChicagoStPatsParade.com
A modern day miracle occurs each year as part of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebration when the Chicago River turns an incredible shade of Irish green. This spectacular transformation ranks right up there with the parting of the sea by Moses and the Pyramids of Egypt.
For the past 43 years the Chicago River turns green for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebration. One would ask how this is different from the rest of the year when the river is always a murky shade of green. The difference is both significant and breathtaking because the color green is identical to the greens of Ireland from where it got its name “The Emerald Isle.”
In 1961 Stephen Bailey was approached by a plumber who was wearing some white coveralls, they knew this only because they could see some of the original color. These coveralls had been mostly stained or dyed a perfect shade of green, an Irish green to better describe it. It was when Stephen Bailey asked how the coveralls got this way, that they discovered that the dye used to detect leaks into the river turned green, not just any color green, but the perfect color green.
“A tradition is born”
Today this miracle belongs to Mike Butler and his crew, which he claims to always have a little help from a leprechaun who seems to just appear at this time each year.
If you were watching this for the first time you would think this is a mistake or a bad joke. You see the dye is orange and its initial color on the surface of the river is orange and you would think to yourself what heathen would do something like this. After a moment or two you then see the true color magically appear.
Two miracles appear that day, the river turns a perfect shade of green something that many other cities have tried but have not been successful at doing, and the second miracle by starting with the color orange giving the impression that river will be orange only to convert the river to that true Irish green. We believe that is where the leprechaun comes in.
As the late Stephen Bailey has said, the road from Chicago to Ireland is marked in green. From the Chicago River to the Illinois River, then to the Mississippi, up the Gulf Stream and across the Atlantic you can see the beautiful green enter the Irish Sea, clearly marking the way from Chicago to Ireland.
Read more here: http://www.greenchicagoriver.com/
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
P.S. Around here the celebration continues throughout the week. Tomorrow -- March 18 -- is Rich's birthday. Send him an e-mail! Georganne