VIDEO: Chicago River dyed green to kick off St. Patrick's Day weekend

Chicago kicked off St. Patrick's Day weekend with the decades-old tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green. 

St. Patrick's Day falls on Sunday this year, but the Windy City is starting the celebrations early. 

The river dying began at 10 a.m. west of Columbus Drive and east of Orleans Street. The downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade takes off at 12:15 p.m. at the corner of Balbo and Columbus drives.

The South Side Irish Parade and the Northwest Side Irish Parade will step off the following day. For more information about Sunday's parades click HERE.

How to watch the Chicago River Dyeing live:

Can't make it downtown for the big extravaganza? Don't fret, Fox 32 Chicago is streaming the event live. Viewers can tune in via the livestream at the top of this article or on Fox Local, available on your smart TV. 

Miss the dye? Check out this timelapse of the process. 

How long has the Chicago River been dyed green?

The tradition dates back to 1962 and has been a fixture ever since. The dye is harmless to wildlife and lasts for roughly five hours of selfie-snapping pleasure.

It all began when Richard J. Daley was the mayor of Chicago, but the idea stemmed from the Plumbers Local Union. The green dye was initially used to identify how sewage was getting into the water. It helped show where there were leaky pipes. 

In festive spirit, the Plumbers Local Union decided to dump 100 pounds of dye in the river for St. Patrick's Day, and it lasted a week. The second year they dialed it back to 50 pounds and the river stayed green for a few days. 

Now, about 40 pounds of vegetable-based dye is used each year and the river stays vibrant for just a few hours. 

The process is handled by two boats. One dumps the powder dye while the other stirs it around in the water. 

The best views of the river dyeing will be from Upper Wacker Drive between Columbus and Fairbanks.