It's been a Chicago tradition since 1962.

But has anyone ever stopped to ask why we can't do the same here in The Mitten?

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This year St. Patrick's Day falls on Sunday, March 17 which means we get to take advantage of a full weekend of shenanigans like parades, pub crawls, and of course plenty of pints of Guinness!

St. Patrick's Day Guinness

For the 63rd year the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local 130 will dye the Chicago River it's signature fluorescent green in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. In fact, the act of dyeing the river itself is a destination for tourists and townies alike! This year the dyeing will take place the day before St. Patrick's Day festivities. Have you ever wondered how they dye it?

How It's Done

The exact formula is a Plumbers Union secret but they claim the dye is "environmentally friendly." Originally the color lingered for a few months but now it only stays for a few hours. According to the Illinois EPA,

The dye used is a food grade dye also used in medicine, as the colorant for antifreeze and as a tracer dye. Illinois EPA found that at the concentration used in the Chicago River, it is completely non-toxic

Chicago River St. Patrick's Day

So, Can We Try It Here?

If Michigan were to ever follow suit, which river should we dye? To me there's only one obvious answer: the longest river in Michigan!

Coming in at an expansive 252 miles long the Grand River runs from its natural spring source in Hillsdale County all the way through Jackson, Lansing, Ionia, and Grand Rapids before emptying into Lake Michigan near the Grand Haven area.

One West Michigan resident shared a similar sentiment on the Grand Rapids Informed Facebook group saying, "This needs to happen in the 616!" and was met with mixed reactions:

  • "Even if it's non toxic and safe... Why? The river will just look a disgusting green and there will be pretty much zero benefit" - Alan Douglas Otte
  • "I don't think anything could make the Grand River any worse lol but I think it would be cool" - Kelsey Fayber
  • "Doesn't The Grand already have its own green tint" - Brad Walczewski
  • "Huge difference when your a mile from the lake and 30 miles inland from Lake Michigan." Robert William Schellenberg III

Would you like to see the Grand River turn green?

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