Public weighs in on possible St. Patrick's Day changes

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Every year hundreds of thousands of people come to Savannah to take part in the Saint Patrick's Day celebration, but some feel it's getting out of control.

Critics complain there are too many people, the city's getting trashed and there's way too much alcohol.

Tuesday Savannah's City Council listened to what the public had to say on all the issues. "I agree with a lot of the things you say it is gross. I don't enjoy it but for that amount money I can put up with gross for a couple of days," said one bar owner.

The there's the idea to get rid of the vendors. "I've come to utilize this as my second income," said one vendor.

The reason some want the vendors gone is to protect the businesses on River Street. They're there year round and should be the ones profiting off the festival.

However, many believe they wouldn't be able to handle the crowds without the vendors.   "If you limit to where they can only go into restaurants and bars you're going to have an unimaginable line for one and people are going to be highly, I don't know if I can use this word, ticked off," said Steven of Wilmington Island.  His only affiliation with the festival is a participant.

The other topic the gates and wrist bands, some want them gone while others say that will be the biggest mistake. "When we sit here and hear city taxes are going up and revenues coming down, we have a goose that lays a golden egg," said Danny Mitchell talking about the amount of the money the city would lose by getting rid of the gates.

Right now they make $5 on every person that comes through those gates.

Council had a lot to take in, but one thing they heard over and over again "stop making changes."

"Year after year customers from out of town says it's just not fun anymore," an employee of Bay Street Blues.

"We're going to lose it and getting it back is going to be a huge task," said Susan Jest with the Jinx.

"We like to have fun, not be ignorant but with all these constrictions being made I am not going to be able to do that. I don't want to invest in your city and that's not good. That's not going to make us flourish and it's not going to take us on a positive path in 2009," said Steven of Wilmington Island.

From here council will go back and decide what the best course of action is, but like Mayor Otis Johnson said when they make their decision someone's going to be happy and someone is not.