Mobile businesses compromise with city over festival zone access - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Mobile businesses compromise with city over festival zone access


Just five days remain until downtown Savannah is fully emerald green for the St. Patrick's Day Parade and two day festival.  

City Market, Ellis Square, Congress Street and Johnson Square are all now officially part of the festival. It's the new expanded controlled entertainment zone. 

It's not just River Street anymore and that means mobile businesses like the carriage horse rides, pedicabs and Savannah's Slow Ride, who travel inside the zone on a regular basis, will have some problems come Friday and Saturday.

The new expanded zone now runs from River Street up to Bay Street and all the way to Broughton Street, which will include six stages and 40 bands, and will extend to Martin Luther King Boulevard to Drayton with a smaller area extending along Bay Street to East Broad Street.

According to Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Major James Barnwell, during festival hours, which are 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday, horse carriages, pedicabs and the Savannah Slow Ride will not be allowed in the zone. 

"They will be able to operate business as usual, it's just that they won't be able to function in what we call the controlled zone, which we call the festival area," Barnwell told WTOC. 

The horse carriages and pedicabs do have a have loading area designated for them on Bryan Street and Jefferson, and last month, the city worked out a compromise with the horse carriage companies to stay in City Market after a fight to have them move.

However, there may be some bending of the rules, at least on Friday.

The carriage companies and Savannah Slow Ride tell WTOC the city and police are allowing them to run inside the zone on Friday until police say it's just not safe.

"As soon as it gets overwhelming, we're out. Plan B. Too crazy," Samantha Meier, Savannah Slow Ride told WTOC.

Meier says her fleet of six Slow Ride quadricycles are ready for Friday. They will only be on the streets until 4:30 p.m. at the latest, and then call it a day. The same goes for the horse and carriage companies who say dealing with the crowds later in the day is too much and they'll need to be out of the festival zone by that time anyway.

Meier says she's happy the police are working with the mobile businesses to help them stay on the move during at least the first day of the festival.

"It's not so much bending the rules, it's basically keeping everybody safe. As long as the pedestrian traffic isn't overrunning the streets and as long as we can get through safely, the police and city will work with us and be flexible," Meier said.

Saturday is a different story. The companies know it will be slammed and the Slow Ride will not be open, but will reopen on Sunday. The same goes for some of the carriage companies. 

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