Dyeing the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day

Chicago & St. Patrick’s Day

Oh I have been absolutely terrible at keeping up my blog posting; I apologize. So I am about to make a couple posts all in a row. First up, our “New Thing” for March.

My brother-in-law lives in Chicago so my husband’s entire family has done this a few times, but I had never seen the Chicago River turn green for St. Patrick’s day. So that’s what we did for our “new thing” two months ago. We also went to a live taping of the NPR radio program, Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, which was also a new thing for us.

St. Patrick’s Day

Craziness. That’s what it is. Well, that’s not 100% true. The river is dyed green early enough in the morning that most rational people aren’t going to be obnoxiously drunk yet. And those who are not rational people are unwilling or unable to get up. So we had a surprisingly easy and pleasant time watching this spectacular show.

Commencement of the dyeing of the Chicago River for St. Patrick's Day
The start of the event -the boats with the (environmentally safe) dye have made one pass. The contrast is incredible!
Dyeing the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day
The people in the first boat dump the dye, which is orange before it hits the water, and the second boat follows them up and down the river, churning up the dye and spreading it out.

You can kind of see in the wake of the boats the initial orange color of the dye. I don’t know what’s in the dye or how it works, and the city keeps the secret very well hidden. You can also see the intensity of the green. I was somewhat ready for this because those who had seen it had said to me, “No, you don’t understand. it’s not like a slightly green tint; it’s NEON green,” so I shouldn’t have been as awed as I was, but the contrast and brightness of that dye was something I wasn’t completely prepared for. It was beautiful.

In Chicago for St. Patrick's Day, watching the city dye the river green
Here we are, proof that we were in attendance while the river was being dyed green.

Luckily the crowds where we were weren’t too intense (until we went to the parade later that day) and we got a good viewing spot, but a word of advice for those who would like to go: get there early. I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, to find that they were not allowing people to stand on the bridges that spanned the river. This makes sense; they don’t want to completely shut down traffic, but it does mean that the banks of the river fill up quickly, so you’ll want to arrive 15-20 minutes early to get a front-row seat. Also, I recommend getting a hotel room within walking distance. Driving, let alone parking, would be a nightmare.

We went to the parade later that day and, unlike the people who were watching the river turn green in the morning, there was a terrifying number of drunk-to-the-point-of-vomiting people. I feel the need to point out here that the parade was at noon. Not 10pm. So, if you go to the parade, be prepared to get separated from your group, know your destination, plan alternate routes, and don’t stop until you get where you’re going. Leave the camera phone in your pocket; you don’t need a picture of the drunken brawl and the crowd behind you won’t stop so you can update your Instagram feed.

Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me

Husband and I have been fans of this NPR program for years. We like it so much that we download the podcasts before a road trip and listen to them all the way to our destination. Hours and hours and hours of Peter Sagal, Carl Kasell and a rotating panel of comedians and other funny people answering questions on recent news stories and making fun of them and each other. It’s fantastic and for my father-in-law’s birthday we all wen to a live taping of the show.

No photos of this, and if you’re not a fan of the show this probably won’t interest you at all, but it was a fascinating experience for us. Firstly, the broadcast version of the show is only about 45 minutes or so long, but the live show is closer to 2 hours long. They do a LOT of editing and we were surprised, and admittedly a bit saddened by all they had cut, but it’s understandable. The most interesting part was after the show they spent about 5 or 10 minutes re-doing parts that they had messed up or could have done better. Then they took questions from the audience and I so wish they could keep that part in the broadcast version. It was just as entertaining as the actual show.

So my recommendation for you is, if you haven’t heard of Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, click the link and listen to their podcasts. You won’t be disappointed. Then, go to a live show. It is well worth it!


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