Savannah preparing for St. Patrick's Day

By Don Logana - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - There are just a few days until the 187th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police and the City of Savannah are getting ready for the big event. If you walk downtown you will find people already wearing every shade of green. The city is already busy with tourist, but it's only the sign of what is to come.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police spent the day dropping off and setting up the French barricades alonf the river and parking lots. As of 2 p.m. Monday afternoon, River Street looked like a Saturday afternoon with people all over the squares and along the sidewalk. Police are not using the barricades yet, but SCMPD Sgt. David Gay expects officers to be busy by Wednesday night and says the barricades will be extremely useful.

"We have had good feedback on them and when we have dense crowds it facilitates us getting back and forth easier. So we will be able to get from one end of river to the other quickly and so will others who use that corridor," said Sgt. Gay.

SCMPD visited other cities like New Orleans for Mardi Gras to see how they handle large crowds. By Thursday, the barricades will become very useful.

Also, this year SCMPD will use the downtown cameras installed by the City of Savannah six years ago in several locations. Two of those locations include City Market and River Street, which will be the areas with the largest crowds.

"It's an extra set of eyes for us. We can't be everywhere and if there is a problem somewhere or crowds are moving we can keep track of them and get sent to those areas quickly if we have to," said Sgt. Gay.

This year, there will be no bracelets and the festivial will be a free zone, meaning people will be able to go anywhere. This also means, the crowds could be anywhere, which SCMPD Sgt. David Gay says makes the cameras even more important while trying to keep the public safe.

Another change this year are new rules for cab company. In the past when cab companies were allowed to extend their fleet without inspection. This year, all the cab companies must be color coordinated pass inspection and be insured.

"They're trying to keep everyone safe and when they get complaints, they'll know based on color of cab. Cab companies aren't happy, but the city says the changes are in everyone's best interests," said City of Savannah Parking Services Sean Bradon.

The cameras will also be able to let police know where there may be a problem.

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