Chicago surprises the city with the traditional green river for St. Patrick's Day after saying the event was canceled

An aerial picture shot with a drone shows the Chicago River as it flows through downtown after it was dyed green in celebration of St. Patrick's Day. By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN

(CNN) -- The green river wasn't supposed to flow for St. Patrick's Day in Chicago this year, but the city surprised its residents by carrying on the tradition unannounced.

To help curb crowds again due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chicago officials canceled the annual dying of the Chicago River event --- a longstanding St. Patrick's Day tradition. On Friday, the Chicago Sun Times lamented the lack of green for the holiday this year.

However, Saturday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot shared an image on her Twitter account announcing that the river was being be dyed that morning in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

"Happy St. Patrick's Day Weekend, Chicago! Although we didn't gather, we were able to honor long-standing tradition by dyeing the Chicago River green, thanks to the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers. If you're heading out today, make sure to mask up and watch your distance," Lightfoot said.

So even with the second straight year of no parades in honor of the Irish inspired holiday, at least one Chicago tradition broke through.

"Due to the continued public health concerns of COVID-19, the City of Chicago has announced it will not be issuing any permits for parades or large gatherings in the first quarter of 2021," parade organizers said in a statement at the beginning of February.

Parade officials have since created a virtual event to celebrate in order to keep everyone safe.

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