Uh, this raises red flags

The artists among us probably know what happens when green is mixed with brown. Municipal officials in Bay City, Mich., however, aren't sure they want to find out. Normally, this is not the sort of matter that would attract much attention, except that green is the color usually associated with the Republic of Ireland, and Bay City has a proud Irish heritage. And, coming up in two months is St. Patrick's Day.

Since 1955, the city has been among those that hold a big parade in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, covering a 20-block route that ends at the Saginaw River. But this time, in addition to the floats and marching bands that thousands of people come to see, interested parties want to give the occasion a new appeal – by dyeing the waterway emerald green, as is famously done in Dublin and Chicago.

There's just one problem: The Saginaw runs brown rather than clear, and the dubious aren't convinced that adding dye would produce the desired effect, even for the few hours at the height of the celebration. Said city commissioner Mary Jane Gorney: "[It] does not appeal to me at all because I'm afraid the color is not going to be green." Nor does Mayor Charles Brunner seem enthusiastic. "I have no idea what the mechanics are," he told a meeting of commissioners. "It's not defined.... I could only assume that it would be nontoxic." On the other hand, the idea has the support of county executive Thomas Hickner. "Dyeing the river green," he wrote to the state Department of Environmental Quality, "would add to the excitement of the day without any harm to the watershed." No word on when the DEQ will rule – or how.

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