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The Birches Assisted Living

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The Birches Assisted Living Becomes Part of Chicago’s Most Important St. Patrick’s Day Tradition

On March 16, the pond at The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills is going green for St. Patrick's Day—just like the Chicago River—thanks to the Butler family, the family who has been dyeing the Chicago River green for the past 55 years.

Clarendon Hills, IL, March 16, 2017 --( For 55 years, Chicago’s Butler and Rowan families have dyed the Chicago River green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. On March 16, The Birches Assisted Living’s pond will go green too, compliments of the Butler family.

Last year, The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills became the first place in Chicagoland (other than the Chicago River) to get the green treatment from the Butler family, when they came to honor their family patriarch, Birches resident Mike Butler.

Butler, who participated in nearly every river dyeing since it started in 1962, passed away last July. But the Butler family will return to The Birches to carry on their new tradition in memory of Butler, who lived in The Birches’ memory care neighborhood for about a year.

Last year was the first year Mike Butler wasn’t able to attend the Chicago River dyeing since the tradition started. But Butler’s family and The Birches staff brought the celebration to him. They hosted a St. Patrick’s Day presentation in which Butler was honored with the Irishman of the Year Award from the Irish heritage and cultural organization ShamROCK Chicago.

“It was such a wonderful tribute, and we were so thrilled he was able to have it before it was all over,” said Marlene Butler, Mike’s wife of 56 years. “He couldn’t go out on the boat anymore, but that tribute made all those years spent on the river in the snow, rain and cold worthwhile.”

Last year, after the St. Patrick’s Day tribute to Mike Butler, the Butler family decided to do an impromptu pond dyeing at The Birches. This year, Mike Butler’s grandson Travis Horath will dye The Birches’ pond again, and his granddaughter Grace Kearns will deliver an Irish dance performance.

“He was just so proud that it was something he could hand down to his grandchildren. They’re all eagerly waiting to get their chance to go out on the boat and dye the river,” said Marlene Butler.

Of course, Butler’s grandchildren and children are also eager to continue their newfound tradition at The Birches, where they will celebrate the life of their father and grandfather by participating in a St. Patrick’s Day presentation for Birches residents, enjoying Irish snacks and beverages and watching the Birches’ pond turn a bright Kelly green. Likewise, the staff at The Birches are honored to be part of one of the country’s most famous St. Patrick’s Day traditions.

“We’re grateful to be part of such a popular, long-standing Chicago tradition,” said Birches’ Executive Director Jackie Sander. “We were so fortunate to have Mike Butler in our community, and we’re glad we get to continue honoring him each year in such a fitting way.”

The Birches Assisted Living in Clarendon Hills, Ill. 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 630-789-1135 or visit:
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The Birches Assisted Living
Jenny Smiechowski

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