The Tradition of Dyeing the River Green: In late 1961, a plumber entered Stephen M. Bailey's office at the Chicago Journeymen Plumber's Local Union #130 in white overalls splotched with green. The plumber had been pouring green dye into openings of the waste system, in search of the source of refuse being dumped into the Chicago River:
As fate would have it (or the "luck of the Irish"), the plumber had walked in on a casual meeting regarding the planning of the 1962 St. Patrick's Day Parade. The proverbial light bulb went off for Bailey and his next question was, "Why can't we dye the whole river for St. Patrick's Day?" Thus, a long standing tradition was born. That first year, the dye kept the river green for a week.
With typical Irish flair, Bailey commented, "The Chicago River will dye the Illinois, which will dye the Mississippi, which will dye the Gulf of Mexico, which will send green dye up the gulf stream across the North Atlantic into the Irish Sea, a sea of green surrounding the land will appear as a greeting to all Irishmen of the Emerald Isle from the men of Erin in Chicagoland, USA."
History and quote from http://chicagostpatsparade.com/index.html.
The Sales Pitch: What better way to witness a 49 year tradition than from the river itself! This year we will launch at 9:30 AM from the Lincoln Park Boat Club's North Avenue river site.
We will be greeted by thousands of cheering onlookers as we arrive under the Columbus Street bridge at approximately 10:30 AM, just in time to witness the river being dyed green. No, the dye will not affect the color of your boat.
Date: Saturday, March 13th
Time: Please arrive at the LPBC's North Avenue river site by 8:30 AM so that we can launch by 9:30 AM. Depending on how long we linger downtown, we should be back at the launch site sometime around noon.
Distance: Six miles (round-trip)
Gear: A wetsuit is required (or a drysuit if you have one) since the water will be quite cold. Please plan on being on the water for three hours since there are very few opportunities to get out of your boat during the paddle. A warm change of clothing, water and a snack bar are recommended.
Trip Difficulty: This trip is intended for the more experienced paddler because of the water temperature and the time we will spend in our boats.
Please keep in mind that it is more challenging to paddle six miles in the winter than in the summer due to all the gear we'll be wearing and carrying.
Directions: The Lincoln Park Boat Club's river site is located just south of North Avenue and just west of the Chicago River on Magnolia Street. Magnolia is the street that runs south from North Avenue across from the Home Depot and between the river and Comcast's headquarters. The site is located about 1/4 mile south of North Avenue on the east side of Magnolia Street. I have attached a map for your convenience.