To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanical Gardens, 7402 W. Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights, created a little Irish magic as volunteers and staff dyed its waterfall emerald green. (Photos by Kelly White)

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanical Gardens, 7402 W. Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights, created a little Irish magic as volunteers and staff dyed its waterfall emerald green. (Photos by Kelly White)

Lake Katherine goes green again for St. Patrick’s Day

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By Kelly White

One of Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanical Gardens’ most popular features is its large waterfall, which tumbles over four separate falls, travels a distance of over 300 feet and descends approximately 30 feet before joining the lake itself on the east side.

With Irish festivities in full swing this St. Patrick’s Day, the nature center was in on the fun, making its wonderous waterfall a highlighted attraction.

To celebrate the day, the nature center, 7402 W. Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights, created a little Irish magic as volunteers and staff dyed its waterfall emerald green.

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First-timers to the waterfall dying event at Lake Katherine, Emma Grambozov, 4, and her mother, Malva, of Orland Park, had a blast at the event Friday morning.

“This is our first time here for this event at Lake Katherine,” Malva Grambozov, of Orland Park, said, who attended with her 4-year-old daughter, Emma. “We’ve never been to the one in Chicago, so we are very excited to be here.”

The water was dyed in the morning and again at lunchtime, offering two time slots for families to attend, free of charge.

The biodegradable dye was placed directly on top of the water to appear magically, turning the water slowly green until every drop was covered, according to the center’s operation manager Gareth Blakesley.

“The water is colored a brilliant shade of green once a year, only on St. Patrick’s Day, to recognize and salute those from an Irish heritage in the surrounding communities,” Blakesley said.

The dye was not only festive, but safe, as well.

“A biodegradable dye was used so it did not affect either the wildlife or the nature center’s surrounding habitat,” Blakesley said.

The tradition of dyeing the waters at Lake Katherine began about a decade ago when the former operations manager, who was of Irish decent, thought it would be a fun event for the community.

The event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but returned last year. Attendees were more than happy to see the waters run green again this year, keeping the annual tradition alive.

“I think especially after a hiatus due to COVID, having these community-based events, is what everyone needs after the pandemic,” Blakesley said. “There is a sense of camaraderie especially watching a spectacle like the dyeing of the waterfall, where people can come and celebrate St Patrick’s Day together.”

Attendees braved the cold and agreed with Blakesley.

“This is something we look forward to every year,” Steve Szymczak, of Palos Hills, said. “It not only represents the start of Spring, but it’s a great family event.”

“We love this event,” Jean Freeman, of Palos Heights, said. “Lake Katherine does such amazing things for the community. We’re here every year.”

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Charlie Freeman, 4, and his brother, Frankie, 3, of Palos Heights, were all smiles at Lake Katherine’s St. Patrick’s Day event on Friday morning.

 

 

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