Crowds pack Chicago for official St. Patrick's Day celebration

While St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the Windy City kicked off last Saturday, there were no shortage of celebrations on Friday, March 17th – with shenanigans to continue throughout the weekend!

St. Patrick’s Day marks one of the busiest drinking days of the year – and of course, there is no shortage of green beer.

At Timothy O'Toole's in Streeterville, the party began at 10 a.m. on Friday.

Sporting green from head to toe, many customers were starting the celebratory weekend early.

At Butch McGuire’s in the Gold Coast, hundreds of hand-crafted decorations adorn the walls and ceiling – a crowd pleaser among first-time and longtime patrons.

"One group that left a little while ago has been coming since ’78 and they’re a lot of fun to see. The customers come back over and over again," said Bobby McGuire, owner of Butch McGuire’s.


The celebrations kicked off last Saturday when about 40 pounds of dye was dumped in the river, but many say there's no other time like March 17th to enjoy the fun.

"The energy in Chicago is just so unique for St. Patrick’s Day, I feel like it’s just something you have to experience. Everyone is just so happy to be here," said Olivia Prezzano.

"My tradition is pretty simple, have some green beer! Come here and enjoy friends and have fun," said Al Connor.

On Division Street, shenanigans were just getting underway Friday evening, at no better place for it than Shenanigans!

"This has been the best day ever," said Khyel Tolliver. "And we’re going to keep going until tomorrow."

"St. Patrick’s day, best holiday of the year," said Patrick Flynn.

On Friday, Flynn was taking it all in and showing out of town guests what Windy City Irish pride is all about.

"Best thing about St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday, you get two weekends of St. Patrick’s Day, last Saturday, gotta go out when the river is green, but on real St. Patrick’s Day, here we are," said Flynn. 

This St. Patrick’s Day, WalletHub estimates a whopping $6.8 billion will be spent on beer alone.