SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Plant Riverside District has announced plans for a new six-day festival to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The Shamrocks and Shenanigans Festival will be held from March 12th to the 17th.
In a statement, Richard C. Kessler, the Chairman and CEO of The Kessler Collection said, “We encourage everyone to wear a face mask and practice social distancing as they enjoy Savannah’s newest St. Patrick’s Day tradition.”
The festival is expected to turn the entire area green, have live music, and draw thousands of people. Some local health leaders are concerned about the possibilities for community spread of COVID-19.
But leaders at the Plant Riverside say they are keeping people safe.
“St. Patrick’s Day is a tradition for many years. Let’s keep it going and do it in a whole new way, especially in the times we are in right now,” said Tyler Gray, Entertainment Director.
The Plant Riverside District says their celebration will be a way to bring people together safely.
“What we are trying to do here for the whole entertainment district is to create an excitement moment in a safe way,” said Gray.
The festival will need to take extra precautions to keep all of its visitors safe.
“We are encouraging safety guidelines, we are encouraging what the City has already put in place, making sure everyone is wearing masks. Any closed area, we are making sure that we are not only doing temperature checks but we are making sure that people are social distancing the entire time,” said Gray.
The Coastal Health District says those precautions are good, but may not be enough.
“They’re useful screening tools in the right setting but, they can be confounded in many ways,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, the district’s health director.
The event is taking place as official City of Savannah St. Patrick’s Day events are canceled. The City says they expect businesses and people to follow the governor’s mandates.
“The City is not permitting anything for the St. Patrick’s Day festival for this year. Certainly, our private businesses owners and people in the community are doing things but, the City is very clear that we expect people to follow the mandates, to wear the masks,” said Susan Broker, senior director of Special Events, Film & Tourism for the City of Savannah.
Plant Riverside did not discuss the event with the City’s Director of Special Events, but since it’s private property, the City did not need to sign off on the festivities.
“They are doing this entirely on their private property,” said Broker.
As a result, Plant Riverside’s festivities are allowed. The City just hopes the event won’t encourage mass spread of COVID-19.
“Everyone doing their part to stop the spread. That’s why we aren’t permitting any event,” said Broker.
But Plant Riverside hopes to establish a tradition, safely.
“I think they are going to expect a tradition that we are going to keep going and going for many, many years,” said Gray.