Wristband ordinance back for 2013 St. Patrick's Day

Wristband ordinance back for 2013 St. Patrick's Day

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The 2013 St. Patrick's Day Festival ordinance is now law. The Savannah City Council gave its stamp of approval late Thursday afternoon.

Wristbands sales are now back for at least for this year to help control underage drinking. The festival committee decided to expand the controlled entertainment zone, which will open up more of downtown to the many festival goers.

But businesses are concerned about the $5 bracelets and where that money goes.

At the same time, the entertatinment zone - no longer just a river street thing - will now include City Market, Ellis Squaire and Congress Street.

The expanded, controlled entertainment zone for 2013 runs from River Street to Broughton Street and includes Congress Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Drayton Street, a strip of East Broad and East Bay Street.

With the expanded zone comes rules - no coolers and no dogs.

"From a public safety perspective, it will help us control coolers, bicycles, dogs, exotic animals, firecrackers - all the things we've had issues within the past," said Marty Johnston of the city of Savannah.

Johnston said they're putting 40 bands all over downtown on various stages on River Street and City Market.

Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Chief Willie Lovett said he is optimistic about how this will work out - specifically with the implementation of the wristband policy.

Those who want to drink in public in that zone will need to buy the wristband. The breakdown of the wristband sales are as follows: $1 goes to the city of Savannah the other $4 goes into a fund shared by the riverfront, the Downtown Business Association and City Market.

Businesses such as the Rail Pub said they were kind of forced to be part of the controlled entertainment zone and aren't sure what the benefits are for them.

"We're going to be helping make money for City Market and River Street. Meanwhile, this square in front of me has never had a band play in it and we never even had Port-O-Lets over here," said Melissa Swanson of the Rail Pub.

The Downtown Business Association is assuring downtown businesses that this is a good thing for them.

"Without this zoning ordinance passed, there would be no funding mechanism to put these events on. This is going to be able to fund the things we need. This is going to give the businesses extra protection as far as security. This is going to be a funding mechanism to put on quality festivals, entertainment and more port-o-potties. This probably is one of the most prolific things done in Savannah in the last decade," said Ruel Joyner, Downtown Business Association.

Businesses do not have to enforce the bracelets or sell the bracelets. Police of been instructed to be very lenient in leading people who are drinking in public without a bracelet to where they have to go in some cases they may have to tell them to dump their drinks.

The festival hours are from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. March 15 and from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on March 16.

So on the day of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, people can be in City Market and River Street and in other places and drink in public in a to-go cup.

But once 5 p.m. hits, that's when the ordinance goes into effect and you have to have a bracelet.

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