The streets of Chicago are set to run green as St. Patrick’s Day rapidly approaches with four-leaf clovers and bagpipes in tow. From the numerous parades, the river dyeing and ethnic foods, the city has enough entertainment to bring out anyone’s inner Irish. You won’t need the luck of the Irish to navigate successfully through the festivities — just your local school paper.
Kicking off March 14 is one of the more well-known celebrations: the dyeing of the Chicago River. As they have for the last 54 years, the union group Chicago Journeymen Plumbers will pour 45 pounds of eco-friendly vegetable dye into the river. Initially appearing orange, magic and science (mainly science) create an emerald green color. Starting at 9:15 a.m., the spectacle can be best viewed from the east side of the Michigan Avenue bridge, the west side of the Columbus Drive bridge or from Upper and Lower Wacker Drive between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive.
Later in the day, head over to Grant Park to see the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Beginning at Balbo and Columbus drives (just north of the Field Museum, 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive), the parade will go north on Columbus Drive, ending at Monroe Street near The Art Institute (111 S. Michigan Ave.). Plan on seeing plenty of floats, Irish dancers and marching bands accompanied by a blare of bagpipes. There isn’t a best spot to watch the parade, but the viewing stand will be in front of Buckingham Fountain towards the center of Grant Park.
Boasting dance, food and, most notably, an extensive lineup of live music, the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC) (4626 N. Knox Ave.) looks to be among Chicago’s largest celebrations. The event will run two days: on March 14 from 1 p.m. to midnight, and then again on St. Patrick’s Day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Attendees are treated to various ethnic food stations, traditional and contemporary Irish bands from both Chicago and Ireland and numerous Irish dance troupes. The $12 (advanced purchase) entry fee also includes admission to the IAHC’s art gallery, library and museum.
For adventurous eaters, there is the underground night market, Sauced. This hipster bazaar is famous for showcasing up-and-coming cooks, artists and musicians from across Chicago, such as Cookies and Carnitas and the Radler. Making monthly appearances at random venues around Chicago, this month’s opening falls on St. Patrick Day, and organizers have hinted that vendors will serve themed items for the occasion. The location chosen this month is Emporium Arcade Bar in Logan Square (2363 N. Milwaukee Ave.) and has no entrance fee. However, because it is a bar, this will be an event for those 21 and older.
For those who want some good music, stop by the House of Blues (329 N. Dearborn St.) and spend St. Paddy’s Day listening to the classic Irish music of Gaelic Storm. On the Celtic folk and Celtic rock scene since 1996, the California-based group will spend two nights in Chicago, playing a 6:30 p.m. show on March 13 and 14. Tickets are $48.60, and a $9 discount is available for those buying in multiples of four.
As a bonus, the main St. Patrick’s Day celebrations also coincide with another equally important holiday: Pi Day. This Saturday, March 14, 2015, the numeral date will line up with the first five digits of Pi, 3.1415, the only time it’ll do so in this century. In celebration of this pseudo holiday, bakeries around Chicago such as Sweety Pies Bakery (8042 Lincoln Ave.), Artopolis Chicago, Cafe & Agora, (306 S. Halsted St) and Bennison Bakery in Evanston, are showing their nerdy appreciation with special discounts on mathematically themed pies and other baked goods.
Chicago is ripe with activities to fill your schedule on St. Paddy’s Day weekend. Embrace your inner Irish and dance the day away with cabbage in one hand and free beer in the other.