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CHICAGO ST. PATRICK'S DAY 2012

Get the details on five of Chicago's favorite St. Patrick's Day activities for 2012.

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Photo: fourth photography

Chicago's 5 Favorite St. Patrick's Day Traditions

No doubt about it: There's nothing quite like St. Patrick's Day in Chicago. It's a holiday when the Irish pubs are packed, jovial crowds line the city streets and the Chicago River dissolves into a vibrant shade of emerald green. There's no shortage of stuff to do, but these five festive activities should frame your celebration schedule year after year.

Dyeing of the Chicago River
March 17, 10:45am (get there before 10am)
In what might be the city's most famous St. Patrick's Day tradition, 40 pounds of vegetable dye are poured into the Chicago River to turn it emerald green for the holiday. Actually, at first glance, the dye appears orange on the river's surface — but don't panic. Thanks to a little leprechaun magic (or, well, science), the hue transforms and seeps in until the whole river is a beautiful green. The Chicago River only stays green for about five hours, so don't miss out. The best viewing spots this year? The east side of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, the west side of the Columbus Drive Bridge, and along the river banks between Michigan Ave. and Columbus Dr.

Shoreline Sightseeing St. Patrick’s Day Cruise
March 17, 10am or 2pm
All aboard! On St. Patrick's Day, you can cruise the green Chicago waters on a 90-minute tour that explores all three branches of the river. In between enchanting city sights and stories about how the Irish helped shape Chicago, you'll enjoy a traditional Irish buffet that includes classics like corned beef and cabbage, and bread pudding. Toast the day with a Guinness or Irish coffee, and you've got a lovely end to your stint at sea. Tickets

Erin Go Beer! Irish Pubs of Chicago
March 8, 11 and 15
Get into the St. Patrick's Day spirit with a pub-crawl-slash-trolley-tour from the Chicago History Museum. Not only will you stop by some of the city's best watering holes for a delicious brew, but you'll also learn the stories behind each pub, the lowdown on the Irish in Chicago and the history of St. Patrick's Day itself. Slainte!

St. Patrick's Day Parade
March 17, 12pm
What's a holiday without a parade? How about one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country? Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade is just that. Rain or shine, it begins on Columbus Dr. at Balbo Dr. and runs north up Columbus to Monroe Dr for roughly three hours. Plan on seeing plenty of Irish-inspired floats, bagpipes, marching bands, dancers, and, of course, lots of green along the way. Helpful hint: Take public transportation for a quick and easy route downtown.

St Patrick's Day Celebration at Navy Pier
March 17, 2–6pm
After the parade, make your way to Navy Pier's Family Pavilion Stage for an afternoon of Irish dance. First up: the innovative Trinity Irish Dancers from Trinity Academy, the largest Irish dance program in the world. Over the years, these talented children have won worldwide Irish dance competitions and performed in feature films by Disney, DreamWorks, Touchstone and Universal. Then, Anish takes the stage, a group big in Chicago's Irish music scene whose members include Aiden O'Toole, a singer and guitarist from Ireland; Kevin Moran on flute, whistle and sax; and fiddler Chris Bain.

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