SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - St. Patrick's Day is almost here, and if you're heading down to Savannah to celebrate, you need to figure out how to get there, where to sit and where to stay.
Companies have already sold hundreds of shuttle passes, and if you're hoping to get a bleacher seat, you need to do it sooner than later.
Bleachers are set up near the Cathedral, along Bay Street, and near the Colonial Cemetery. Kelly Tours said Monday just over 100 seats were left at the Cathedral and the cemetery, but only about 20 seats left on Bay Street.
Shuttles are running from outlying cities into Savannah as well as within downtown.
Pooler Chamber of Commerce said about 200 shuttle tickets were purchased as of Monday.
Richmond Hill is also running a shuttle to Savannah on Saturday. With the city's hotels booking up, the Richmond Hill Convention and Visitor's Bureau wants to make it easy for people to get to celebrations.
"It's just $20, which is either one way to Savannah or round trip, and shuttles leave on the hour every hour and every 30 minutes from downtown," said Christy Sherman, executive director of the Richmond Hill Convention and Visitor's Bureau. "So it's very convenient. You don't have to find parking. You don't have to deal with the traffic or anything like that."
Coolers, chairs and strollers are allowed on the shuttle.
Sherman said Richmond Hill's 12 hotels and two campgrounds should be booked by the end of the week.
"We have just over 1000 rooms and two campgrounds, so probably a few thousand people will come through there that weekend," Sherman said. "We always love to introduce new visitors to our area. We have a lot of history here. We have a lot of great local restaurants. We're on the Ogeechee River, so there's lots to do here. It's fun to introduce people to that."
Port Wentworth's 12 hotels have over 800 rooms, and Trisha Growe, president and CEO of the Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce, said Monday only a handful are still available. She says March is the biggest collection of hotel and motel taxes in Port Wentworth because of higher daily rates and totally sold out hotels.
"Last year, we had over $29 million in direct spending just between the 12 hotels in our area," Growe said. "That's huge for a city of just over 8,000 like Port Wentworth."
Growe said many of the people booked this year are staying in Port Wentworth for their third of fourth St. Patrick's Day. She thinks the lower rates and great customer service keep them coming back.
Growe said those looking for a last-minute room can call the Chamber of Commerce, and someone will direct you to hotels with availability.
Port Wentworth is offering shuttle service again this year, but the city is partnering with Chatham Area Transit for the first time. Shuttles will leave from Rice Creek School near Publix.
Businesses, especially Irish pubs, are also preparing for St. Patrick's Day.
Kevin Barry's Pub on River Street is getting ready to serve thousands of people over the holiday weekend.
Hannah Shattck, a bartender at Kevin Barry's Pub, said staff often work double shifts to keep up with demand, and she said extended shifts are typical for most River Street employees during St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The pub buys lots of extra liquor and brings in an extra ice machine to keep up with demand. Shattck said thousands of people will come to the pub, and they'll serve thousands more to-go drinks on River Street
Richmond Hill's Irish pub, Fia Rua, is also readying itself for a large crowd. The pub recently expanded, and with triple the space, head bartender Stephanie Bird is expecting triple the people. She said about 1,000 people frequent the pub on a normal weekend, and she's expecting more for St. Patrick's Day. The pub will serve breakfast before shuttles leave for Savannah Saturday morning, and it has live music and events scheduled throughout the day.
If you are planning to drive and park, Savannah is pre-selling spots.
Parking will also be available Friday-Sunday at the Visitors Center Parking lot located at 301 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Savannah. There are 281 spots available for purchase. The cost will be $20 for Friday and Saturday and $10 for Sunday.
Mobility and Parking Services is also offering pre-sale parking spaces for Saturday only at the following locations for $20:
- Bryan Street Garage - located at 100 East Bryan Street. There are 100 spaces available. Due to the parade route, vehicles parking in the garage will not be allowed to exit until after the parade ends.
- Liberty Street Garage - located at 301 West Liberty Street. There are 100 spaces available.
- Robinson Street Garage - located at 132 Montgomery Street. There are 100 spaces available.
- State Street Garage - located at 100 East State Street. There are 100 spaces available. Due to the parade route, vehicles parking in the garage will not be able to exit until after the parade ends.
- Whitaker Street Garage - located at 7 Whitaker Street. There are 100 spaces available. Expect possible delays coming out of the garage.
- Henry Street Parking Lot - located on the west corner of Henry and Whitaker. There are 24 parking spaces available.
The Curtis V. Cooper Parking Lot is sold out as are RV spaces in the Visitors Center Parking Lot.
You can find all the details about time and price and links to buy tickets on our Season of St. Patrick's page.