Chicago’s St. Patty’s Day Parade is one of the most popular in the country—due in part to the dyeing of the Chicago River that turns the water running through the city a bright Emerald green! If you’ll be visiting Chicago during St. Patrick’s Day or you live nearby but have never been to the parade, this guide is the key to a fun, family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day at the parade, including suggestions for other Chicago attractions to round out your weekend.
When is the parade?
Rain or shine, the parade will start at noon on Saturday, March 15, 2014. Typically, the parade lasts for about three hours.
Can we watch the river dyeing take place?
Yes! Almost as exciting as the parade itself, the “Dyeing of the Chicago River” is a ritual that you’re not likely to experience on any other occasion. The tradition takes place at 10:45 AM before the parade, and the river stays green for about five hours. Of course, the dye used is vegetable based and eco-friendly, so as not to disturb the natural eco-system of the river.
What’s the parade route?
The parade runs north through Grant Park on Columbus Avenue, starting at Balbo Drive and culminating at Munroe. There’s generally more viewing room at the beginning of the parade. The viewing stand will be located in front of Buckingham Fountain.
Why is the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parde so special?
For several reasons! First, Irish-American immigrants played a big part in the historical and cultural shaping of the dynamic city that is modern Chicago. Plus, like the Irish, Chicago knows how to celebrate. Colorful floats proudly displaying Irish flags, troops of Irish step-dancers, marching bands, bagpipe players, and Chicagoans decked out in green are all part of the experience. Adding to the excitement, this year’s parade marshal will be John McDonough, president of Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. And did we mention the green river?
What should I bring?
Mid-march can still be quite cold in Chicago, especially this year, so you’ll want to dress in warm layers. You’ll be outside for some time, so bring any drinks or snacks you and your family might want.
How should I get there?
Public transportation via the CTA is highly recommended. You can take the blue or red lines to any of the Loop stops and walk east to the parade route, or take the Brown, Green, or Orange lines to any of the Wabash St. stops and again, walk east to Grant Park. You could also hop on the bus, using the CTA website to plan your route.
What else is there to do in Chicago?
Take the weekend to explore top Chicago attractions and the dynamic culture and history they encompass. Visit Museum Campus, just south of Grand Park, to spend some time at three crowd favorites: The Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum. You can’t miss the Art Institute of Chicago, located in Grant Park near the end of the Parade route—It was recently voted “#1 Museum in the United States” in TripAdvisor’s 2013 Travelers’ Choice Awards! Finally, whiz up the elevator to the top of Willis Tower for an unparalleled view from the Willis Tower SkyDeck Chicago observatory. These are just a few of the 26 attractions available with a Chicago attractions pass from Smart Destinations.