SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - By the time Savannah saw green, they felt it.
"This," said Ron Avery after Friday's greening of the fountain ceremony, "is the start of it."
It is. The greening of the fountain in Forsyth Park is the beginning of Savannah's season of St. Patrick.
It is the unofficial official kickoff to a week's worth of events and gatherings that make up perhaps the biggest Irish celebration in the country.
"To see something like this makes me really, really excited," said Nicole Quinn, who recently moved to Savannah from Houston. "I haven't gotten a chance to spend St. Patrick's Day in Savannah, so this is like the kickoff. So, I'm super excited to see what it's all about."
There are bigger parades than Savannah's, four that we acknowledge.
And there are more Irish in larger cities. But it is hard to believe the spirit of the season lasts as long or reaches as far as it does here.
"It's exciting," said Cynthia Verda, who has lived in Savannah for about 10 years. "It's part of Savannah and part of the culture and part of their history."
"When we grew up, we didn't do this," added Gwen Avery, who like her husband, Ron, grew up here and now returns for St. Patrick's Day every year. "And now that they do it, we try to come and enjoy the whole week."
There have been St. Patrick's Day themed events going on for weeks with the grand marshal and his aides making the rounds to private groups and small get-togethers.
But Friday, in Savannah big park, was the public event that brought out the community and brought us together, that brought St. Patrick and his day sharply into Savannah's focus.
And it will stay there through next weekend.
"Well," said Savannah resident Linda Fountain, "there's just so much excitement just getting things kicked off and getting ready for St. Patty's Day and the Clydesdale horses."
"It gets people ramped up to participate in all of it," added Verda. "And it gives everybody something to look forward to."
Tara Feis Saturday. The Tybee parade Saturday. The walk to the Celtic Cross on Sunday. There's still a lot to come for the Irish and everyone who considers themselves Irish.
But until the color fills the streets next Friday, the city won't feel greener than it did when the Forsyth fountain flowed green.