Chicago and its river turn green for the the 67th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade

By Kristen Gesicki and Bianca Kreusel

Chicago was painted green on Saturday for the 67th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Cheers from the crowd roared through the sky as paradegoers marched and Irish-jigged down Columbus Drive.

For the past two years, the St. Patrick’s Day parade was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Last year, the river was dyed green with only a small crowd in attendance, after Mayor Lori Lightfoot surprised the city and approved for the river dyeing that morning.

This year, the Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130 kicked off the celebrations for the week at 10 a.m. by dyeing the river before a much more boisterous group of onlookers.

Andrew Gill, a former firefighter, visited from Grove City, Ohio to see the river and attend the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. This was Gill’s first time seeing the green river and the parade.

“That’s pretty awesome to see,” Gill said. “We’ve never seen it before, and to see just all the dye coming out of the back of that one barge and them mixing it up was really neat.”

The St. Patrick’s Day parade followed at 12:15 p.m.

Traditional Irish dances from the Trinity Irish Dancers captivated the crowds while Chicago businesses handed out candy and other merchandise along the parade route.

Kate Signor, a freshman at the University of Minnesota, traveled home to Chicago during her spring break to see the parade. Signor said she visits the parade every year, but hasn’t been back since the cancellation of the parade for the last two years. Signor was excited to be back in the city to celebrate.

“I’m Irish,” Signor said. “I think it’s just cool to celebrate heritage. Because I feel like as an Irish person sometimes, there’s not as much events to celebrate [Irish culture] like other cultures. So, it’s fun to have a day to just celebrate that.”

Signor continued her tradition of celebrating with her family at the Irish American Heritage Center after the parade to enjoy Irish foods and dances.

The theme of the 2022 St. Patrick’s Day parade was “Honoring Chicagoland’s Essential Workers.”

Chicago Police Officer Kelley Leyden was the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Queen of 2022. Leyden rode in style as she was honored for her service and queen status during the parade.

Gill, a former firefighter EMT, was glad this year’s theme could celebrate and honor essential workers throughout the city.

“I know it’s a pretty thankless job,” Gill said. “But, it’s really good to see us stepping out and telling these guys how much they mean to us because they work hard, and they work long hours and put their lives on the line in a lot of situations in order to keep us all safe. So, it’s a good thing that we’re taking care of them.”

The parade also honored police officers, companies, organizations and businesses that help run Chicago, such as the Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 281 and the Irish American Heritage Center.

The luck of the Irish and celebrations will continue throughout the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday, March 17.