SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Thursday morning is the official start of this year's Saint Patrick's Day Festival and the final touches to prepare for the hundreds of thousands of visitors are being made.
Thursday at 10 a.m., River Street will be pedestrians only and that will last throughout the festival. That's what vendors have been preparing for all day Wednesday.
"We're expecting a very, very large crowd. And hopefully a lot of hungry folks," said Willie Tuten, with Tondee's Tavern.
Businesses along River Street and throughout downtown were taking advantage before the festival starts to get in last minute supplies.
For first responders, preparations began weeks ago and it's all-hands-on-deck for several agencies like Savannah-Chatham Metro Police.
"There are going to be uniformed officers everywhere. So, turn around, find the nearest officer, and tell them if there's something that worries you, if you need help with something. We're there to be a resource for you," said SCMPD Cpl. Hillary Nielsen.
While they'd like to keep festival goers out of the emergency room, doctors at Memorial Health know alcohol will be flowing over the course of the festival and they're preparing for a potentially busy weekend.
"You know, as the day progresses people have more fun. Eventually, that often will lead to a visit to the emergency department," said Jason Pope, Memorial Health.
Many wanting to experience the festivities are already in town, like members of the Irish National Police Force, hosted Wednesday by the Chatham County Sheriff's Office.
"I know what we celebrate at home, but I'm anxious to see what happens here. By the sound of it, it's a different world," said Sgt. Elaine Horan, An Garda Siochana.
Please click here for the Chatham Area Transit St. Patrick's Day transportation schedule and additional information.
For SCMPD's Live Event Road Closures Map, click here.