How The River Is Dyed Green

Like the rest of Chicago, I ventured downtown on St. Patrick's Day to marvel at the Chicago River dyed a vibrant shade of green in honor of the Irish (ChIrish?) holiday.  Though the Chicago River is normally a sewage-green color anyway, something about that shamrock-green hue seems less "I'm polluted" and more "I'm festive"! Not to mention, the persistent sunshine and blue skies only accentuated this colorful body of water. Needless to say, I was impressed.

My question, however, was how exactly do they make it this shade of green?  Thanks to the Chicago Magazine's 312 blog, I have the answer.

Check out the video above for all the details (note it was made in 1992), but here are three facts I found especially interesting about this story:

1. The dye was originally supposed to be a way to trace sewage in the water.

2. The dye itself is an orange powder, and only takes a bucket-full to dye the entire downtown area.The dye will also turn your teeth orange (see 3:59).

3. The parade is organized by the plumbers union.  Who knew?

Did you see the river turned green?  Do you think the river looks better in leprechaun green or normal green?  Does this mean the entire Chicago River is all sewage?  Let us know!  Comment below, comment on our Facebook page or tweet us @Chicago_U.

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