Why Chicago's mayor surprised residents with a green river

Chicago's river was glowing bright green on Saturday.
Chicago's river was glowing bright green on Saturday. Photo credit: Twitter - @IrelandChicago / @chicagosmayor

Chicago's mayor has surprised residents by dyeing the US city's river bright green in celebration of St Patrick's day. 

The city has been dyeing the river green to commemorate the day since 1962 but had to cancel last year's display due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Residents were led to believe 2021 would be the same, parades were cancelled and even the people behind the dyeing, Chicago Plumbers Union, denied having any plans to do so, reports CBS Chicago. 

That was until Saturday morning when Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office announced the event would be going ahead in a matter of minutes.

The announcement purposely gave the public little notice in an effort to keep crowd sizes to a minimum due to COVID-19.

So to the surprise of locals, Chicago Plumbers Union began cruising the river in boats spilling a stream of green dye as they went, NBC reporting the water was glowing green within 20 minutes.

"Happy St Patrick's Day Weekend, Chicago," Lightfoot wished residents on Twitter.

"Although we didn't gather, we were able to honour long-standing tradition by dyeing the Chicago River green, thanks to the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers."

Lightfoot also reminding residents to "mask up" and maintain their distance from others if they did decide to visit the festive body of water.

Although the city's St Patrick's parades remained cancelled, residents were just excited to see the river green once again.

"The tradition is back!! So exciting," one Twitter user exclaimed. 

"An opportunity to see the Chicago River dyed green *without* obnoxious crowds? Yes please," said another. 

"So they lied to everyone to discourage crowds but still dyed the #Chicago River green for #StPatricksDay LOVE IT."

Chicago also held a more COVID-19 friendly event, an at-home decorating contest called "Shamrock Our Blocks."

Gatherings in the city are currently limited to no more than 10.