SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Parade organizers and the military are putting an end to a decades-long tradition in this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade. They're asking parade-goers not to run out and kiss the 3rd ID soldiers as they walk.
With everything going on around the world today, parade organizers said this move is all about safety and security for the active duty military members walking.
It's a tradition that goes back as long as anyone can remember. Kissing the soldiers and BC Cadets started decades ago. The rosy-red cheeks of soldiers and cadets is a staple with the parade.
"Ladies would run out and give us a hug. Most were St. Vincent girls or girlfriends. Then it became the mothers. Now it's the thing to do," said the Parade Committee Grand Chairman, Brian Counihan Sr.
This year, the military is asking people not to do it. An army spokesman said the military wants parade-goers to respect the professionalism of the soldiers as they walk.
"Really the worldwide situation, terrorism, you just don't want people running out to active military. It's a fun thing, but it puts them on edge and it could be a danger," Counihan Sr. said.
Folks will still be able to put on the red lipstick and kiss BC Cadets. Officers and military personnel will keep those people away from 3rd ID soldiers.
"Treat people right. The military doesn't want it to happen. We don't want it to happen. Just do the right thing. You don't want someone running out there kissing your wife or momma so treat them the same way," said Counihan Sr.
The move is in line with tighter security for this year's parade. State and local agencies will line the route to make sure everyone obeys these rules and has fun.
"Today's times, keep an eye out. If you see something suspicious, go to a policeman and tell them. Otherwise, just go have a good time," Counihan Sr said.
There will be no strict punishment for people who don't get the memo and still run out. Just expect to be stopped before you plant that kiss.