It all started on St. Patrick’s Day in 1978 when a young homebuilder rode his horse into a local tavern to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and his heritage. So what could top such a stunt? How about a bet to turn the town’s fountain green, water ski around the fountain, and who doesn’t show up is out $250! So, on St. Patrick’s Day 1979, with a large crowd watching from shore, the world-famous fountain in Fountain Hills was dyed green, and all the bettors skied around the fountain as planned, except for one. He couldn’t get up on the skis.
Now, 44 years later, what started as a bet in a bar has become the annual Greening of the Fountain in Fountain Hills on St. Patrick’s Day. The fountain will flow emerald green on Friday, March 17, 2023, at noon. The fountain spray will be bathed in green light when the sun sets to continue the tradition. The show is also viewable on the town’s webcam at www.experiencefountainhills.org/fountain.
The fountain starts with no dye. The jet spray turns emerald green after injecting the color into the stream. It takes 55 gallons of coloring for the fountain to turn green. The dye causes no harm to the water, which irrigates the surrounding park and is home to various wildlife.
Fountain Hills has the world’s fourth-tallest fountain. It was built in 1970 in Zürich, Switzerland, by Robert P. McCulloch, developer of the town. Another of McCulloch’s master-planned communities featured the reconstruction of the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, which was completed the following year.
Three pumps push the spray as high as 560 feet. However, the third pump is used for special events and as a backup for the other two pumps. At its full height of 560 feet, the fountain is taller than the Washington Monument. It is also three times as high as Yellowstone Park’s Old Faithful. The white plume is visible far beyond Fountain Hills and can be seen from the Superstition Mountains, Carefree, and aircraft. The fountain runs every day of the week and every hour on the hour for 15 minutes from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.