St. Patrick's Day, Chicago-Style

Revelers pose near the newly dyed Chicago River.
Revelers pose near the newly dyed Chicago River.

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Chicago can be a blast if you know what to wear, where to go, and, most importantly, what to drink! Below is a quick introduction to the major St. Paddy's Day events to help guide you through a daylong celebration in the Windy City.

Chicago Fashion
First, in order to properly celebrate, you must put on every item of green clothing that you can find in your closet. Every.Last.Item.  Break out that odd compact of green eyeshadow and neglected bottle of green nail polish.  Don the green socks that your grandmother gave to you for your birthday.  Beads, glitter top hats, and face paint are optional, but encouraged.

Chicago Parade
Once you are fashionably dressed in all shades of green, the first order of business is to watch some of Chicago's renowned parades. If you are new to the city, it may be best for you to start with two of the largest parades, the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Chicago Southside St. Patrick's Day Parade. Yes, they are separate and distinct, and yes, you should see both!  Chicago parade crowds are exuberant, especially when it comes to supporting their local communities.  Expect to see Mayor Daley, the local high school marching bands, the city firefighters, police force, and students at Irish Dancing schools piva-ing their way down the Chicago streets to loud cheers.

Dyeing the River Green
After the parades are finished (or before the day of the parade, depending on how the city's schedule works out on any given year), head on down to the Michigan Avenue bridge to watch the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers dye the Chicago River a bright shade of green.  "But Meridith," you ask, "why would I want to see this, when I can clearly see that the river is naturally green?"  Because, dear Reader, the normal green hue of the Chicago River cannot hold a candle to the Kelly green that it becomes for a day.  There is also no need to worry about the local wildlife population; the dye used is completely safe!

Green Specials
A personal seasonal favorite of mine is the McDonald's Shamrock Shake. This unnaturally-hued treat is perfect complement to your green outfit; the sugar will also help replenish your energy levels after running around the city to see the parades and the river (be careful to balance the sugar with some protein; you don't want to have your energy peak and crash before you reach your next destination).  Soak up the minty flavor as you enjoy all the Irish celebration around the city!

St. Patrick's Day at the Abbey
At the end of the day, head on up to the North Side and visit the Abbey Pub for live music and dancing. Former students of the many Chicagoland Irish Dancing schools show off the moves they learned while others enjoy traditional brews.  Everyone in Chicago is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, no matter what their heritage may be during the rest of the year, so celebrate with your countrymen in true Irish style before the clock strikes midnight!

**Remember, however, to make arrangements to get back home BEFORE you start drinking; ensure a safe end to the night and you will have successfully completed a comprehensive St. Patrick's Day celebration tour in Chicago!**

Dancers at the Abbey Pub on St. Patrick's Day 2007.
Dancers at the Abbey Pub on St. Patrick's Day 2007.

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