River O'Green: Hillsborough River Dyed For St. Patrick's Day

Tampa city leaders say the dye is safe for the environment and won’t harm animals or people.

TAMPA, Fla — St. Patrick’s Day is Thursday, March 17. But, Tampa didn’t wait that long to begin celebrating in a big way with the 2022 River O’Green Fest.

It took just one small boat to dye a section of the Hillsborough River green. A large boat followed behind to help mix in and spread the dye throughout the section of the river adjacent to Curtis Hixon Park. 

“The dye actually comes as a powder,” Shaun Drinkard with the Tampa Downtown Partnership said. “Then it’s turned into a liquid form. About a few hundred gallons [is used].”

It only takes a few minutes for the water to turn a bright kelly green. The dye used isn’t harmful to animals, people or boats. And it has some interesting uses outside of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. 

“It’s commonly used in eye surgery,” Drinkard said. “Water departments and plumbers use it to detect leaks as well.”

The dye washes away with the tides and is expected to be gone by 5 p.m. on Thursday. If you missed it this year, you’ll have to mark your calendar for next year’s event!

The River O’Green festival was canceled the last two years because of COVID-19. 

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