During St Patrick’s Day in Chicago, the entire city shows Irish pride, regardless of background. The holiday has become a celebration of praised characteristics of Ireland, including lively music, great atmosphere, and a welcoming environment. The first decision to make is which 2016 Chicago St Patrick’s Day parade to attend—and the choice between the two will be difficult. Everything turns green in Chicago for its festivities, from its beer to its river. The green river in Chicago is the most famous part of the celebration in the Windy City, so plan a trip here, thrown on your best green outfit, and grab a glass of green beer to celebrate one of the world’s most loved holidays.
The first Chicago St Patrick’s Day parade is held in downtown Chicago and is the older of the two. This parade was originally held on the South Side of Chicago, but in 1960 was moved to downtown. In response, a second parade in Chicago took to the streets in 1979. Today, the South Side Irish St Patrick’s Day continues, and it creates some tough competition for the original parade. The downtown parade starts at noon at the intersection of South Columbus and East Balbo and then heads north. The parade is about three hours long, and it is televised, so you can watch part of it from home or from a cozy seat in a pub.
There is an alternative St Patrick’s Day in Chicago, on the South Side. This tradition began when two friends were nostalgic for the old party in the South Side and decided to start one of their own. Taking place on the Sunday nearest to March 17, the parade begins at noon at 103rd and Western, and finishes at 115th and Western. The parade has grown significantly since 1979, and some locals enjoy it even more than the downtown version. From pipe bands to floats, the Chicago St Patrick’s day parade offers continuous entertainment.
The green river in Chicago is a favorite part of the annual celebration. At 10:45 am this dyeing takes place, and the Chicago River is shamrock-green by the time the parade begins at noon. Each year, crowds line up on the bridges and along the shores to watch the boats do their work. The contents of the dye are a secret, but watching the boats release their dye is a fantastic sight. Neon green dye spreads out in the river with the help of boats that stir the water. This stirring continues until the famous green river in Chicago has achieved its final bright green look. If you’re in Chicago for this event, it is definitely worth getting up early and grabbing a seat to observe.
There are other ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day 2016 in Chicago as well. Irish pubs and restaurants are widely available in the city, and all work hard to re-create the fun and welcoming atmosphere that pubs in Ireland are renowned for. The Irish American Heritage Center is a massive 86,000-square-foot facility that is definitely worth a visit to expand your knowledge of the Irish experience in America. If all of those festivities aren’t enough, take the time to learn some Irish recipes and cook up your own celebration at home. If you are planning a trip away for the holiday, many cities in America and beyond have excellent celebrations, including Philadelphia, Sydney Australia, and even Vancouver BC.