It has always been the motto here that you don't dare drink the water from the Chicago River. If you presently or ever have lived around here you have heard the stories of what "lurks" beneath the surface and often you can see what "lurks" by looking at the surface. St. Patricks Day adds one more reason to not drink the water. This fun holiday is probably the most celebrated day in Chicago. In my younger days, I was known to kick back a few green beers on the day(the memories are tucked deep in a secret place). At this point, though, I have a different priority. To witness the dyeing of the river green. In my 25 years+ here, I have never witnessed it and decided to do so this year. Got up early on Saturday and made my way down to the festivities. I parked and had to walk about 4 blocks to the river. If you want to know how crazy this city gets on St. Pat's Day, just walk four blocks on a 24 degree morning at 8 am. Every bar and restaurant I walked past, and there must have been a couple dozen of them, had lines out the door and at least a block long. I don't think they were all there for green eggs and ham. Hint: Green Beer. Now, at 8 am. you walk by and laugh. At 4 pm, I think you run and scream. You just know it was going to get crazy.
The dyeing of the river started about 50 years ago and it actually started by accident. The story I heard was that a plumber was using the dye to look for pollution leaks in the city plumbing. Wherever the dye leaked into the river, they knew they had a problem. The plumber had some sort of personal problem and went to see the head of the plumber's union. The union boss noticed how the plumber's overalls were splotchy with a green color. He asked how the green color got there and the plumber explained. The rest is history. Shortly after, a traditon was born. It takes about 40 pounds of the powdered dye to turn the river green. It lasts for a day or so and is safe for humans and wildlife. Originally, they used 100 pounds and found it lasted for a week, a little too long for the city's liking.
Today's post includes before and after shots of the river, but if you want to see more pics head over to
http://dyeingofthechicagoriver2013.shutterfly.com/. There you will see numerous other pictures of the action. Perhaps, one of the most interesting shots I got was of a guy with water jets mounted to his feet that made him float above the water and sometimes he would plunge himself down into the water and pop back out. Unfortunately, he never came super close to where I was standing, but you can get the idea. It was neat and I gotta find me a pair of those.