CHICAGO — The Chicago River was dyed a bright shade of green Saturday after Mayor Lori Lightfoot reversed an earlier decision not to tint the waterway for second year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Crews on boats began dumping green dye into the riverfront about 7 a.m. after Lightfoot authorized the dyeing ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, delighting pedestrians with the vivid scene.
Chicago residents Lori Jones and Mike Smith surveyed the green waters, saying they were glad the tradition that dates to 1962 was resumed this year.
“We’re happy that Mayor Lightfoot decided to continue with this tradition because we truly missed it last year, as a lot of other things in 2020,” Jones, 59, told the Chicago Tribune.
Last year, Lightfoot abruptly canceled the city’s 2020 parades and the river dyeing just days before they were to take place in the early days of the pandemic. She called off the parades again this year due to the lingering pandemic and said the river would once again not be dyed.
But a Lightfoot spokesman said in a statement that the city opted “to honor the long-standing tradition” and authorized its partners, the Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130, to dye the river.
The event was not publicized in advance “in order to minimize crowds and avoid congregating,” the spokesman said. “Furthermore, 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.”