This aerial view shows the Chicago River being dyed green March 11 in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. | Lee Hogan/Sun-Times via AP

A harsh, over-the-top tradition: Dyeing Chicago River green

SHARE A harsh, over-the-top tradition: Dyeing Chicago River green
SHARE A harsh, over-the-top tradition: Dyeing Chicago River green

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As an outsider from Portland, Oregon, I was flabbergasted when Friends of the Chicago River told me the citydyes the Chicago River green for St. Patrick’s Parade Day. I couldn’t completely imagine what that would look like. The Friends are obviously against this and they are beginning the hard, nuanced work of changing this behavior. It is an annual humiliation of a river.

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People who support this tradition (or have never given it much thought), which started in the 1960s, say the solvent (what plumbers use to detect leaks) is safe for the environment.

That may be or may not be — but to the fish and other critters who have returned to the Chicago River and call it home — losing all visibility for 24 hours must be, at minimum, very distressing. We should not be dyeing rivers, whether we have the ability to do it or not. Chicago loves Lake Michigan. It would never be contemplated to dye the lakefront.

After experiencing Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Parade Day it provided some insight — it is a very important and fun day to celebrate and a big source of cultural pride. I had a blast being a part of the day.

Every city, our country and as individuals, we all have many bad behaviors, accepted as social norms, that need a spotlight and a mirror — no doubt we have a long list of our own in Portland.

Cheers to our family at the Friends of the Chicago River for all the great work you do and thank you again for your hospitality for my visit.

St. Patrick’s Day can be celebrated without humiliating the river and freaking out the wildlife! As Chicago’s relationship with its river is slowly but surely changing like in Portland, one day the dyeing will be stopped and maybe replaced with a floating river parade!

Willie Levenson, Portland, Oregon

Trump budget cuts: What rubbish!

In describing the recently proposed federal budget (and layoffs that will follow), President Donald Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney said, “you can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it.” (“Trump budget cuts domestic spending to build up military” — March 16).

So it’s come to this. Trump and his minions feel that federal workers who protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and research cures for cancer are part of a “swamp” in Washington that needs to be “drained.”

What rubbish! The Environmental Protection Agencyand National Institutes of Health workers and researchers Trump wants to lay off are true American heroes. They protect our air and water and work tirelessly to advance the fields of medicine and other sciences.

In reality, Trump’s budget cuts are a huge gift to polluters who will inevitably allow more harmful emissions from power plants. The cuts also prevent the EPA from removing pollution already in the environment at Superfund sites around the country. They also slow and in some cases eliminate medical research forcancer and other diseases. Americans of all political persuasions must rise up and demand that Congress soundly reject Trump’s anti-science budget cuts at the EPA and NIH.

Mark Kraemer, Wilmette

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