10/10/2012 04:25 pm ET

Wendella's Chicago Water Taxi Turns 50, Celebrates With Free Rides

A mainstay on the Chicago River and the transit method of choice for harried downtown commuters, the Wendella Chicago Water Taxi celebrates its 50th anniversary on Thursday.

Wendella is offering free rides all Thursday, waiving the usual $3 fare. According to the company's website, Wendella will donate $3 for every anniversary rider to the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

The Chicago Water Taxi, part of the 77 year-old Wendella Sightseeing, Co. Inc., began as a rush hour commuter service between Michigan Avenue and the Northwestern Railroad Station in 1962. According to the Sun-Times, the original "Commuter Cruiser" water taxis were white, not yellow, at cost 10 cents a ride each way. Per the Tribune, Wendella is a fourth-generation family business.

Free rides can be taken Thursday during the regular operating hours between La Salle Street and Michigan Avenue on the main branch, from 6:45 a.m. through 8:08 p.m.