gettyimages 933074256 e1521316504104 Chicago River Dyed Green For St. Patricks Day

CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 17: Boats navigate the Chicago River shortly after it was dyed green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago River was dyed a bright shade of green, kicking off the city’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Thousands of people lined the riverfront downtown Chicago on Saturday to see the dyeing, a tradition for the holiday that dates to 1962.

A parade was also held. Among those marching in the parade were Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and many candidates running in Tuesday’s primary election.

The grand marshal was Alderman Patrick O’Connor. He says it’s a chance to celebrate “the hard working Irish men and women” of Chicago.

The Chicago Plumbers Union started the tradition of dyeing the river green, with a material once used to locate leaks in buildings. Organizers say the powder used is a secret recipe and is environmentally safe.

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