It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and in a normal year, that would mean that Chicago residents would be enjoying celebrations like parades and large gatherings. Those events didn’t take place in 2020, and in 2021, parades and large gathering are once again canceled.

That does not mean that St. Patrick’s Day is canceled in Chicago. The city has a long-standing tradition of dying the river green for the holiday, and this year, they surprised residents by dying it green again. Without telling anyone in advance and without any crowds or fanfare, the Chicago Journeyman Plumber’s Union sent crews down the river early Saturday morning. Crews cruised through the water in boats so that they could pour green dye in the river. Just 20 minutes later, the river was completely green.

Watch the video below to see the reaction of a couple Chicago residents when they discovered that the river was green.

According to NBC Chicago, there were not advanced plans to dye the Chicago river green this year. With other St. Patrick’s Day events canceled, the city still wants to make the holiday specific and give residents something to celebrate.

One way the city is encouraging celebrating in a COVID-safe way is a “Shamrock Our Blocks” event instead of a parade. This new event encourages residents to decorate their homes for St. Patrick’s Day. There are even prizes for the best decorations. The grand prize winner will get $1000 cash.

While residents can still enjoy green beer for St. Patrick’s Day, doctors warn that there’s nothing magical about the beer or the holiday to protect you from COVID-19. According to Dr. Allison Arwady, “Green beer does not protect you from COVID. There is nothing different about St. Patrick’s Day that means you should give up on the things that you would normally take from a COVID precaution.”

Chicago has had a history of dying the river green for the past 59 years. We’re glad they were able to keep this tradition alive despite the pandemic.

How do you usually celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Did you know that Chicago usually dyes the river green for the holiday? What’s your favorite St. Patrick’s Day food?