Savannah moves forward with plans for St. Patrick’s Day festivities

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Savannah officials are moving forward with plans to bring back the city’s beloved St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a 198-year-old tradition in Georgia’s oldest city that is also one of its most profitable events.

The Savannah City Council has approved some changes to the 2022 celebration aimed at curbing public drunkenness and boosting business at local bars and restaurants. But the sprawling parade is set to return on March 17, after being canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Mayor Van Johnson said at Thursday’s city council meeting that COVID-19 infections should continue to decline ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. The seven-day average of new infections in Savannah and Chatham County fell below 50 cases a day last week for the first time since before Christmas.

Among other changes, city council members voted to deny permits for outdoor concerts and beer vendors who, in the past, had been accustomed to holding a multi-day St. Patrick’s Day festival on the banks. downtown. Party buses arriving from out of town will also be denied parking permits.

Johnson said the overall goal is to make St. Patrick’s Day more family-friendly and spread profits among more local businesses.

Savannah has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day since 1824, when Irish immigrants held their first procession through the city. It has since grown into one of the biggest street parties in the South after Mardi Gras, often attracting hundreds of thousands of revelers.

Two council members voted against the St. Patrick’s Day plan. One of them, Alderwoman Alicia Miller Blakely, told the Savannah Morning News she objected to the celebration continuing because Savannah did not have a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in January. This parade was canceled by its organizers, not by the municipal authorities.

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