St. Patrick's Day festivities were set to come just a bit earlier than normal this year in Chicago. The annual celebrations of all things Irish as well as the color green typically take place on March 17, but this time around the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the requisite dyeing green of the Chicago River's waters was scheduled for Saturday, the closest weekend to the holiday's actual date.

Saturday will be the 55th consecutive year that the river-dyeing was taking place, an annual tradition started by a local family in 1962. It has always captivated revelers to come out and watch and is largely seen as a family event. The Chicago River is always dyed the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day. People usually watch from two bridges between Wabash Avenue and Columbus Drive as workers dump about 40 pounds of orange formula into the river, turning the water to a vivid green color.

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The river-dyeing will kick the day's festivities off at 9 a.m. CST before the parade, which has a route that starts at Balbo Avenue and Columbus Drive, stays on Columbus and ends outside of the Chicago Art Institute in Grant Park on Michigan Avenue. The parade was scheduled to begin at 12 noon CST.

The celebration of St. Patrick's Day is an Irish tradition that dates back more than a millennium, with the first parade estimated to have been held on March 17, 461, after St. Patrick's death, according to

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This year's incarnation of the parade in Chicago was expected to feature the regular fare of people playing bagpipes, performing traditional Irish dances, floats and marching bands playing as local politicians walk along. Millions of people were expected to attend.

If you can't make it to the Windy City, you can still watch a free live stream online of both the Chicago River being dyed and the ensuing parade by clicking here.