Chicago Goes Green for Saint Patrick's Day Festivities

Article excerpt

Byline: J. Hope Babowice

You wanted to know

Erin VanDemerkt, 7, of Vernon Hills wanted to know:

Why do they dye the Chicago River a different color?

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For more information

To learn more about St. Patrick and the feast day, the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire suggests the following.

- "The St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Mystery" by Marion. M. Markham

- "The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh" by Janet Nolan

- "St. Patrick's Day: Parades, Shamrocks, and Leprechauns" by Elaine Landau

- "Let's Celebrate St. Patrick's Day" by Peter and Connie Roop

- "Lucky O'Leprechaun" by Jana Dillon

"Why do they dye the Chicago River a different color?" asked Erin VanDemerkt, 7, a soon-to-be second-grader who attends the St. Mary of Vernon Religious Education program in Indian Creek.

In March 1962, the late Stephen Bailey, a friend of then-Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, gathered some of his co-workers from the plumbers union, boarded a boat in the Chicago River and threw 100 pounds of green vegetable dye overboard in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Ever since then, the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union No. 130 has been creating a temporarily green river to add to the festivities surrounding the celebration of St. Patrick's March 17 feast day.

A brief rundown of Irish symbols helps to explain why the color green is used to celebrate the day. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and is admired for spreading Christianity in the country. He is said to have used the shamrock, a tiny three-leafed plant, to help describe the Christian trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. …