Chicago River dyeing 2021: Green makes appearance for toned down St. Patrick's Day celebrations

ByEvelyn Holmes and Alexis McAdams WLS logo
Sunday, March 14, 2021
Chicago River dyeing 2021: Green makes appearance for toned down St. Patrick's Day celebrations
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office announced early Saturday morning that the Chicago River would be dyed green amid toned down 2021 St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago River is, once again, glowing green!

It's no surprise St. Patrick's Day 2021 will again be toned down in Chicago amid the COVID pandemic, but the mayor's office announced early Saturday that one thing will be the same -- a green river.

The traditional river dyeing event had been canceled as part of a series of measures put in place to ensure safe celebrations during the pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said.

But the city still partnered with the Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130 to honor the long-standing tradition by dyeing the Chicago River green.

"It's a beautiful day. The sun's out [and] spring is in the air," said Jim Coyne, business manager of the Plummers Union. "We're getting through the pandemic, so it's very exciting day."

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In order to minimize crowds and avoid congregating, the city opted not to publicize this ahead of time, and the dyeing took place earlier than the traditional Saturday morning event.

The boats started at 7 a.m. on their secret mission as the city stayed tight-lipped until we could actually see it with our own eyes.

The Riverwalk will be closed on Saturday, and Chicagoans looking to see the river during the day are urged to "keep it moving" and celebrate safely and responsibly.

WATCH: Chicago dyes river green

Chicago officials have warned residents to be cautious this weekend.

For the second straight year the city's St. Patrick's parade won't step off, and liquor control regulators said they've put bars and party buses on notice.

"We've communicated with all of them. They should know the guidelines so if we pop in and you're having a party with a DJ and everybody's dancing, no masks, (the) party is going to be terminated pretty quickly," said Rosa Escareno, commissioner for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Early Saturday, Wrigleyville was relatively calm as restaurants and bars continue to face social distancing restrictions.

"[It's ]fairly crowded but everyone had their mask on," said Emerson Kersten." It was good. It was good to see the community getting together."

It was a similar scene in River North, with plenty of green still on display.

"Green beer does not protect you from COVID," Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago's top doctor, said Thursday.

Out in Park Ridge, the Trinity Irish Dancers made a stop at The Harp and Fiddle.

"It's very much a family day out and it's a really good, really good vibe that's created," said Declan Stapleton, owner of The Harp and Fiddle.

Even with Chicago's major parades cancelled, the city's 2021 Irish Queen is still optimistic.

"The vaccine is out and there is light at the end of the tunnel," said Kari McClowry, Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Irish Queen for 2020-2021. "We're almost there. So it just brings a little bit of hope for us."

After enduring a year of almost no business, many bar managers are perfectly willing to play by the rules and celebrate within the lines.

Bagpipers were also spotted touring Chicago, holding sort-of pop-up concerts, in honor of St. Patrick's Day!

ABC7 caught up with one of them this afternoon outside the art institute Saturday.

The performances are part of an effort by Guinness beer, as the company sends dozens of bagpipers to cities around the country.