Plans to remove Spanish Moss for TV series has residents seeing - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Plans to remove Spanish Moss for TV series has residents seeing red

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

The Hostess City is landing its long-coveted TV series this week, as the WGN America show, 'Underground' will begin filming its second season in Savannah next week. 

However, the fanfare may be shortlived. Despite promises of longer-term jobs and $45 million in direct spending into the city, a backlash has begun, and it all starts in Chippewa Square - and the beloved Spanish Moss.

Chippewa Square and it's bunches of Spanish moss is admired by locals and tourists alike. In a few weeks, some it will be gone. 

The series is about the underground railroad, and part of it will film in Chippewa. Locals are planning to fight, upset with proposed handling of the living organism dangling from our trees.

"Very! Pulling out Spanish Moss is not something I think anyone would want to do," said Savannahian, Barbara Bormes.  

Barbara Bormes saw red when she saw the letter from the TV show's location manager, detailing filming plans. She has nothing against the TV show - just the decision.

"I think the city is all about the dollars they get from the movie industry. I think they'd let them do just about anything they want to do, and it's ridiculous," she said. 

The city says it's not about money vs. Spanish Moss. The moss, they say, will come down anyway with any storm we get, especially the giant clumps. Park and Tree will be present during filming as the crew tries to get a sweeping shot of Chippewa Square, keeping these clumps out of the way. 

The city says they are working with the 'Underground' crew, but did not permit or approve the Spanish Moss detailed in this memo to city council. 

But, when it comes to SEDA, this project and TV series is about money. 

"It will be $45 to $50 million worth of spending. Certainly, a lot will be spent in Chatham County," said Trip Tollison, SEDA Executive Director. 

Savannah Economic Development Agency Executive Director Trip Tollison says the Film Office has worked on bringing 'Underground' to Savannah since April. While the city says they did not grant or permit the Chippewa filming, Tollison hopes all parties work together as they bring more potential TV series to Savannah.

"I think we'll get more bang for the buck, longer shooting times and episodes, and hopefully more to come," Tollison said. 

Businessman and SEDA board member Greg Parker: "You don't like it?"

Barbara Bormes: "No!"

WTOC (to Parker): "Are you against it too?"

Parker: "Yeah. I don't want it."

Parker sits on SEDA's board, and he questioned removing the Spanish Moss, even partially, and warned about a backlash. Barbara wonders why not use Johnson Square - the lone square where Spanish Moss doesn't grow.

"Why don't they pick that one? But we don't want the squares messed with. If they want the moss out they can do it digitally today. They don't have to pull it down," she said. 

'Underground' will begin filming next week, and the cast and crew hits Chippewa Sept. 6. 

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