If we’ve been feeling the effects of global warming
over the past few months, at last we’re about to embark on a period of global greening, even if we can’t quite yet see the grass through the snow!
St Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and Chicago is participating in Tourism Ireland’s
annual "Global Greening" campaign
which sees iconic monuments such as the Sydney Opera House and
the Pyramids in Egypt all given the green light.
Buildings and skyscrapers all over Chirish-land will adopt
several of the 40 famous shades (as opposed to 50 infamous ones) in the week
running up to next Saturday’s parade and the celebrated dyeing of the Chicago river.
The first thing that pops into your head when you see the
Chicago river is that it is green already. Honest, it is. A
nice murky, soggy welly-boot, moss-covered-wood-‘cos-it’s
been-raining-non-stop-for-two-weeks green. But apparently it gets greener.
The story goes that in 1961 the Business Manager of the
Chicago Journeymen Plumbers encountered a workman in Irish green-splattered overalls.
He discovered the plumber had been using a green dye to test for waste leakages
in the river and the idea for turning the river into an apparent field of clover was
The first year, around 100 lbs of dye were used and the "clover" hung around for a week. More recently, worries about possible
pollution caused the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers to rethink their dousing and today
around 40 lbs of vegetable dye are used, the recipe for which is as closely
guarded a secret as Coca Cola.
The powder dye is actually orange so you just
need some white in there and there's the Irish tricolour. Which could
be provided this year by floating blocks of ice as we'll only be seeing daytime
temperatures climb above freezing in the week before the big event.
Having lived through a few St Paddy’s Days in New York
, I’m almost
immune now to the luminous-green hats, beads and flashing sunglasses that
invade the shops this time of year. The Shamrock Shakes are back at McDonald’s
and the supermarkets are pushing corned beef and cabbage (don’t ask). I did have to look up the ingredients for an Irish Car Bomb
cocktail as it was a new one on me. Needless to say, it sounds as if it should taste as awful as its
I’ve been warned that the top of our wee road is a no-go area
the day of the parade because the rest of the city will have been on the go
there since 8am. In particular we’ve been told our go-to local Irish pub, the
nicest I’ve been in outside of the
Emerald Isle and provider of real Irish bacon, sausages and tea during early
morning Premier League football matches, is a very definite no-go-to.
planning to give it a miss parade-day and instead slip over there for a quiet
dinner and wee drink the following Monday night when all the shenanigans have died down. Why that Monday? Only because it’s actually St Patrick’s Day!