St. Patrick's Day: Major U.S Cities Go 'Irish For A Day' : The Two-Way Vice President Pence went to Savannah, Ga., for its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, while the Chicago River and the White House fountain were once again dyed green.
NPR logo U.S. Cities Awash In Green To Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

U.S. Cities Awash In Green To Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Rowers navigate the Chicago River shortly after it was dyed green Saturday in Chicago. Dyeing the river has been a St. Patrick's Day tradition in the city since 1962. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Rowers navigate the Chicago River shortly after it was dyed green Saturday in Chicago. Dyeing the river has been a St. Patrick's Day tradition in the city since 1962.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

In accordance with tradition, the Chicago River was dyed green Saturday morning in honor of St. Patrick's Day. According to The Chicago Tribune, Richard J. Daley, who served as Chicago's mayor from 1955 until his death in 1976, initially proposed dyeing part of Lake Michigan green instead. His friend Stephen M. Bailey, who was business manager of the Chicago Plumbers Union, suggested the more practical option of dyeing the manageably-sized Chicago River, and the plan was first executed in 1962.

The formula for the orange powder now used to dye the river is top secret, but The Chicago Tribune reports that it environmentally friendly. It is spread by two motorboats (one for dumping the powder, the other for stirring the water), and it only takes about 45 minutes for the river's water to turn completely green once the powder is in it.

What you may not know, however, is that one year earlier, in 1961, another city tried, unsuccessfully, to dye its river green for the Irish holiday. That city was Savannah, Ga., and the greening effort was thwarted by quickly moving tides, according to reporting from USA Today.

Despite its undyed river, Savannah managed to secure a visit from Vice President Pence for this year's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration. The vice president was joined by his wife, Karen Pence, and his mother, Nancy Pence-Fritsch, whose father immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in 1923.

Vice President Pence, his wife, Karen Pence (left), and his mother, Nancy Pence-Fritsch, marched in Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade in Savannah, Ga. Stephen B. Morton/AP hide caption

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Stephen B. Morton/AP

Vice President Pence, his wife, Karen Pence (left), and his mother, Nancy Pence-Fritsch, marched in Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade in Savannah, Ga.

Stephen B. Morton/AP

On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed a lawsuit arguing that including signs on a list of items banned in the enhanced security zone being set up for Pence's visit was unconstitutional. But the situation was resolved quickly: WSAV reports that city spokesperson Michelle Gavin said she misspoke when she initially announced the prohibition on signs. Gavin clarified, saying signs and posters would be allowed in the enhanced security zone as long as they were not attached to sticks, poles or posts.

In Boston, it seems another mild fight over the South Boston St. Patrick's Day/Evacuation Day Parade route has been resolved – for now. The city imposed a shorter route for this year's parade because of the 14 inches of snow from last week's blizzard.

A man carries a shamrock flag on West Broadway Street in South Boston, Mass., during the 2017 St. Patrick's Day parade there. Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council Commander Dave Falvey said in a statement posted on Twitter that while it disagreed with the decision of Mayor Marty Walsh to shorten the parade route, the organization would comply. The statement says the council will, however, be working to make sure the parade route will not be shortened in the future.

"Nevertheless, Sunday's parade will be terrific," the statement says, and will include an appearance from the U.S. Women's National Hockey Team, which earned the gold medal at this year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. According to the 2015 census, 21.1 percent of the population of Boston's metropolitan area boasts Irish ancestry, making the region the most concentrated Irish population of any of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

In New London, Wis., a team of local leprechauns decided to continue the town's annual tradition of renaming itself "New Dublin" in honor of the Irish holiday. A "Leprechaun Schedule" posted on New Dublin's website detailed a plan to change the names of street signs. According to the schedule, the team began with the sign on State Highway 54 East, continued on to various roads, schools and day care centers, and ended with "various New Dublin businesses and other signs as needed."

Meanwhile, in Washington, President Trump offered a festive St. Patrick's Day tweet. It appears his administration has decided to continue a White House fountain-dyeing tradition started by Chicago native and former first lady Michelle Obama in 2009.

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