Registration is Open for Chicago River Day

Join Friends of the Chicago River on May 8 for the 29th annual Chicago River Day. The spring litter cleanup and restoration day event draws thousands of volunteers to work in and along the river system at nearly 70 locations throughout the watershed.

Registration is required, and volunteers have two start times to choose from – 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. – to help practice social distancing. Friends of the Chicago River follows CDC, state, and local coronavirus guidelines. Masks and social distancing are required, regardless of vaccination status.

While the overall health of the Chicago River system continues to improve, litter remains a stubborn problem that is harmful to people and wildlife. Over the years, volunteers have carted off hundreds of tons of garbage from the 156-mile Chicago River system, restoring riverbanks and open spaces. Friends began this volunteer-driven free, family-friendly tradition in 1992 and over the last 29 years it has steadily grown into Friends’ largest and most popular volunteer event of the year. 

In addition to Chicago River Day, Friends will continue the successful Summer Challenge launched last year in response to the pandemic so volunteers can work together, but safely apart, all summer long to create a Litter Free Chicago River.

Each year Friends features a river animal as part of Chicago River Day to help connect us to the many different animals that rely on us to care for and protect the river system. To illustrate the interconnectedness of the land and water, this year's featured animal is the American mink (Neovison vison). 

Thank you to all our 2021 Chicago River Day corporate partners including Stream sponsor Exelon; Creek sponsor Waste Management; Spring sponsors Sally Fletcher, Lakeshore Recycling Systems, and Lakeside Bank; Tributary sponsors American Rivers, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., Essanay Studio and Lighting Company, Inc., Healthcare Engineering Society of Northern Illinois; and the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission. We continue to add sponsors every day.

If your company or organization is interested in becoming a Chicago River Day sponsor please contact Friends’ Director of Development Kim Olsen-Clark at