Thousands flock downtown for annual St. Patrick's Day festivities, Chicago River dyeing

ByEvelyn Holmes and Christian Piekos, Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Sunday, March 12, 2023
Thousands flock to downtown Chicago for annual St. Patrick's Day festivities
The fun will continue this weekend for most in a city, where everyone is Irish -- if only for a day.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Thousands flocked to Grant Park for Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday.

For the first time in four years, people were out and about for the holiday, in full force.

"It is fantastic for our city because we're all coming back out of our homes and we're gathering again we're putting the economic blood in the city to save it from going down," said Stephen Komie.

The Trinity Irish dancers - kicking off a green-filled weekend, making their rounds all over town.

"We have been dancing all over the city, including the downtown parade. And then, after that, went out to bars and events," said Shannan Bunting, a Trinity Irish Dance parent.

Cold temperatures did nothing to dampen spirits for the 68th year of the annual downtown event.

"We always want to come but we never do, so we came to see it," said Christy Shadowens.

ABC7's float was among the marching bands, dancers, and others in the parade as it stepped off from Columbus and Balbo at 12:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

"The energy, the people, the city, everything," said Travis Briggs.

It was led by various local politicians, dignitaries, and special guests, like Ireland's finance minister.

"I'm very proud to be here representing the Irish government and to celebrate St Patrick's Day," said Ireland Finance Minister Michael McGrath.

SEE ALSO | St. Patrick's Day tradition: Why Chicago dyes its river green and is it harmful?

The theme of this year's event was recognizing workers' rights. Fallen Chicago Police Officer Andreas Vasquez-Lasso was also honored.

Old St. Pat's also hosted their annual "Shamrock'n the Block," with live music and a pop-up Irish pub.

"There's a great spirit. People want to be together. We are still putting the world back together after the pandemic and this feels really good," said Father Pat McGrath, with Old St. Pat's Church.

Volunteers, working the luck of the Irish to sell raffle tickets to benefit the church.

"The father will not be happy if you don't participate. The guy upstairs would not be happy. He's watching," said one vollunteer.

And, like years before, the day began with the dyeing of the Chicago River.

WATCH: Chopper 7HD captures Chicago River dyeing

Chopper 7HD captured the Chicago River dyeing for St. Patrick's Day.

The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union have been handling it for over 60 years.

It was 10-year-old Ji Yong Lee's first time seeing it.

"So far, I liked when the turned green. It was pretty fun," Lee said.

The fun will continue this weekend for most in a city, where everyone is Irish -- if only for a day.

WATCH: Time-lapse shows Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day

A timelapse shows the Chicago River dyeing for St. Patrick's Day.

The festivities don't end Saturday. There are still two neighborhood favorites scheduled for Sunday: the South Side Irish Parade and the Northwest Side Irish Parade. Both kick off at noon.