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Chicago River Dyed Green For St. Patrick’s Day

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Members of the plumbers' union dye the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day (File photo)

Members of the plumbers’ union dye the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Day (File photo)

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(CBS) – ‘Tis the weekend when everyone in Chicago becomes Irish — and the party is on. Thousands lined Columbus Drive for Chicago’s 58th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

The celebration was kicked off with the dyeing of the Chicago River, a tradition that has been in place for 52 years. Members of the Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130 hopped into motorboats and dumped an orange powder into the river which turns the water a bright green. That color is expected to last between 6 and 12 hours.

For many of the adults, it’s parade, then party. Although temperatures were in the mid 30s, many found it quite warm when compared with the polar vortex temperatures of recent weeks, although nothing like 2012, when temperatures parade day soared into the 80s.

Thousands of children pressed up against the barricades hoping to get some of the candy tossed into the crowd by parade participants. Many brought bags so they could take home their candy, Halloween-style.

As always, it was easy to tell the first-timers from parade veterans, especially those who are in Chicago from Ireland for the first time. One such group of 35, in town for a week with the Kevin’s Hurling and Camogie Club, said they were amazed by the Kelly green Chicago River, not to mention the animals and people dyed to match, and said the pageantry is something unequaled in their hometown, even though Dublin has a sizable parade — on March 17.

Teenaged hurler Adam Garr observed that the Dublin celebration is used by many “as an excuse to get drunk,” and said Chicago’s celebration seems to be more about “flags and pagentry” than drinking.

The hurling club is in town for a week, although snow earlier in the week forced cancellation of their match.

The South Side Irish Parade will take place at noon on Sunday. The parade runs along Western Avenue from 103rd to 115th.

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