The dying of the river for St. Patrick’s Day is an annual tradition that began in 1962

The Chicago River was glowing a bright emerald green on Saturday as the city kicked off its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Thousands of cheering onlookers clustered along downtown bridges as members of Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 130 began dumping containers of dye into the river from motorboats Saturday morning.

The union has done the dyeing since 1962. Organisers had feared that large chunks of ice would impede the process, but recent warm temperatures kept the river clear. The hue typically lasts about six to 12 hours.

St. Patrick’s parade started from downtown and ended at the landmark Buckingham Fountain.

A second parade on the city’s South Side took place on Sunday.

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