Chicago's Green River: This Odd Saint Patrick's Day Tradition Celebrates Its 60th Year

By Karen Harris
The Chicago River after members of Plumbers Local 130 U.A. poured environmentally safe orange powder, turning it green for Saint Patrick's Day on March 16, 2019. (Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Everyone knows that if you don't wear green on Saint Patrick's Day, you're gonna get pinched, and even bodies of water get in on the pain-avoiding fun. In 2022, the Windy City celebrated the 60th year of turning the Chicago River into an Irish spring so verdant that it can be seen from passing airplanes.

Irish Pride

Since the middle of the 1800s, Irish immigrants have reshaped the business, media, and political culture of many U.S. cities but especially Chicago. Among them was Richard J. Daley, who served as mayor of Chicago for 21 years and came up with the idea to dress up the Chicago River for that most Irish of American holidays after hearing about the failure of the city of Savannah, Georgia to do the same.