What Does It Take To Dye The Chicago River Green?

CHICAGO — It’s been a time-honored tradition for almost 50 years: Dyeing the Chicago River green for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

But how to they do it?

CBS sister station WXRT-FM (93.1) when behind the scenes with Mike Butler, who has led the coloring crew since the first dye job back in 1962.

Butler says they have perfected the process over the past 49 years and have never missed a year–no matter the weather.

But he prefers to keep the details a secret, although he wants to assure the public that the process is environmentally safe.

Listen to the interview with Butler from 2010.

Watch some video and check out some photos of the coloring in progress in 2010.

The coloring tradition continues on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m., just east of Michigan Avenue. The annual St Patrick’s Day parade steps off at noon. Click here for the parade route.

  • NWA

    Ahh…. Money?


  • Too Dye For

    Lots of dye.

  • AMR 1960

    No big mystery, it’s just a non-toxic tracing dye that sewer people use to monitor flow rates. It’s also used as a marker dye in marine survivor kits. The stuff is really non-toxic…it’s also the dye that gives Gatorade it’s green color…

  • jeff

    And how much does it cost us taxpayers ??? That’s the big secret ???


    WHO CARES ! ! Daley is gone ……

    • Jeff

      I care , everyone should care , you must be a Packer Fan..,

  • A Much More Interesting Question....

    How much alcohol does it take to make a half million people hammered by 11AM?
    I see them out there at every St. Patty’s parade (especially the now defunt Southside parade). I’ve always wondered this.

    Anybody know the answer???

  • jeff

    Ahh is that how it get’s green , everyone pukeing up there Green beer from the night before ….

  • Old Joke New Day

    How about dyeing it blue the rest of the year.

  • Same Rule Applies

    Drink early, Drink often, just like voting.

  • I am Just Saying

    Blue pee and yellow pee.

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