SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah is preparing to host hundreds of thousands of visitors this weekend for St. Patrick’s Day.
The 195th St. Patrick’s Day Parade - one of the largest in the world - steps off in three days. The city held its second news conference of the week on Wednesday afternoon, finalizing details regarding the parade and festival.
Savannah’s chief of police, the director of Savannah Fire Rescue, other city and elected officials, and this year’s Grand Marshal, Jerry Counihan were all present for the meeting.
“We’re thrilled that we’re this close to the most popular day of the year in Savannah, Georgia,” said Alderman Julian Miller, District 4.
Alderman Miller summed up the feelings of everyone who has worked tirelessly toward this weekend’s festival and parade. Police Chief Roy Minter encouraged patience for parade-goers and sensibility from those drinking.
“Drunkenness and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated and will be addressed by members of the Savannah Police Department,” Chief Minter said. “We also want to remind people to drink responsibly and advise people that if you’re going to come here to the festival, we ask that you have a transportation plan in place that does not include you driving.”
Savannah Fire Rescue says it’s inspected bars in the festival zone as well as hotels to make sure they’re prepared and safe.
“During the festival, our fire marshals will be partnering with the Department of Revenue, and we will be going through the festival zone doing occupancy and safety and fire checks to make sure the establishments are keeping the visitors safe,” said Savannah Fire Chief, Mark Revenew.
You may remember last year, a deck collapsed at the Rogue Water Tap House after the parade, and 14 people were injured. No official cause was ever released, but several lawsuits have been filed.
Back on the parade route, the Parade Committee says the more than 300 parade entries are ready to roll, and Grand Marshal Jerry Counihan is ready to share Saturday with those he loves most.
“The whole family has always celebrated the fest of St. Patrick, so this may be my 72nd St. Patrick’s Day celebration. With my family marching, you’ll see the fourth, fifth, and sixth generations of the Counihan family,” he said.
The city wants to make sure these are celebrations every age can enjoy.
“I want to remind everyone - particularly visitors to Savannah - this is a faith-based celebration - the Fest of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland. The police and fire department are our friends. Listen to them. They are here to help us,” Counihan said.
Chief Minter says there will be lots of officers out throughout the weekend, and if you see anything they need to know about, let them know.
The city will be using social media and the media to keep you informed of traffic disruptions and any other changes during the celebration.