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The Birches Assisted Living

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Birches’ Pond Goes Green for St. Patrick’s Day in Honor of Resident Mike Butler

Clarendon Hills, IL, March 20, 2016 --( The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. became part of a Chicago St. Patrick’s Day tradition that’s over a half century old this year, when members of the Butler and Rowan families, who have dyed the Chicago River Green since 1962, dyed The Birches’ pond green.

Mike Butler, who has participated in the Chicago River dyeing since it began in 1962 and resides at The Birches, took part in a St. Patrick’s Day presentation at the assisted living community with his family members and members of the Rowan family, to share the history of the tradition their families helped create.

The presentation specifically honored Butler, who received the Irishman of the Year award from the Irish heritage and cultural organization ShamROCK Chicago, in recognition of the role he played in Chicago’s most beloved St. Patrick’s Day tradition. As part of the award, Butler was given a Blackhawks jersey autographed by Patrick Kane.

“It’s like being an athlete for the day or a star,” Butler told WGN News of his role in the river dyeing during a 2015 news segment celebrating the tradition. The news segment was shown during the presentation, as Butler happily watched, playing the role of star for the day yet again.

The Butler and Rowan families also shared some interesting facts about the tradition, such as the fact that the environmentally-safe dye starts out as an orange powder, that it keeps the water green for two days and that the Chicago Plumber’s Union donates the dye every year.

After the presentation, Butler’s granddaughter Grace Kerns performed an Irish dance, as her grandfather looked on, beaming with pride.

“The Birches is wonderful for making this happen for Mike,” Marlene Butler, Mike Butler’s wife, said of the presentation. “I just can’t imagine how it would’ve happened without all of their support.”

The St. Patrick’s Day celebration continued with a party in Encore, The Birches’ memory care neighborhood, where residents and associates gathered for shamrock cookies, Irish soda bread, Bailey’s Irish Cream, beer and, of course, Green River soda. To the delight of everyone involved, it was at this point the Butlers and Rowans decided to dye the Birches’ pond green, with Mike Butler’s grandson Travis Horath carrying on his grandfather’s legacy by pouring in the dye.

“It was such a wonderful surprise,” said Birches’ Executive Director Jackie Foss. “We are so honored to have Mike here with us and to be part of this great tradition.”

The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills offers professional services to support the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual growth of the older adults who make it their home. The Birches offers purposeful programming and activities designed to promote a healthy aging lifestyle and a strong sense of community. For more information about The Birches, call 630-789-1135630-789-1135 or visit:
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The Birches Assisted Living
Jenny Smiechowski

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