SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah Plant Riverside District announced Wednesday they would be hosting a six day St. Patrick’s Day festival. Now, locals feel the plan could be a little unfair.
“I really don’t see where it’s fair that one area would be able to have it and we can’t as a whole,” said Micki, a Savannah local.
“It’s upsetting knowing that I’m going to go into work and not make money,” said Savannah local Amber Brooks.
When these Savannah locals found out many St. Patrick’s Day festivities have been canceled, they knew it was for the benefit of the city.
“I’m disappointed, but, I understand why.”
St. Patrick’s Day is the biggest tourist weekend for Savannah. Since most of the festivities have been canceled, many long-standing Savannah businesses are not expecting to get the usual economic boost.
“Because it would be good for all of our local businesses to, you know, for us to have all that business during that weekend. It’s one of our biggest times. Where we can actually bring back some profit.”
“Now that I know that I’m probably not gonna make the money I normally make, it’s very upsetting.”
But the newly constructed Plant Riverside District will be having a six day St. Patrick’s Day festival. Something city leaders say they were not aware of until it was published on Facebook Wednesday.
“They didn’t communicate with us because they knew we would not be for this. We are in the middle of a pandemic,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.
Plant Riverside is private property, which means as long as they are following state mandates they can host their events on their property, but the city says if it spills onto city property.
“The governors order allows them to do certain things but the riverfront and the park belongs to the city of Savannah. And so, you know, we will manage that as we see fit.”
The mayor is frustrated because so many businesses are losing the benefits of St. Patrick’s Day while this one is moving forward.
“We have our businesses across the city that are feeling the pain and feeling the struggle yet they are doing what they can to work with us to keep people safe. It’s not fair, it’s not right, to then turn around and have an entity, any entity that feels they are above the efforts of the whole,” Mayor Johnson said.
While the Plant Riverside District did not address the mayor’s concerns, they did say they’ll do what they can to keep attendees safe. They told WTOC in a statement:
“At Plant Riverside District, we have a strong, uncompromising commitment to the safety of our guests. We have taken the Savannah Safe Pledge and fully support safety guidelines issued by the City of Savannah and the CDC.
We look forward to presenting the inaugural Shamrocks and Shenanigans festival from March 12-17 at Plant Riverside District and are taking necessary precautions to ensure that guests celebrate Savannah’s newest St. Patrick’s Day tradition in a safe, welcoming environment.
We are encouraging all guests to wear face masks and to practice social distancing throughout the six-day festival and will be handing out cards to arriving guests outlining Savannah Safe protocol. We will also have mandatory temperature checks and Covid capacity limits in place for our VIP party at Electric Moon on St. Patrick’s Day.”
At the moment, this festival would be the largest planned St. Patrick’s Day event happening downtown.
Hundreds of people commented on WTOC’s Facebook post about it. Some were for the festival and some were against it.
Even though it is private property, the mayor says they can step in.
“We can shut it down. We can restrict access to that area, restrict access to the park and we might very well do that. Again partnership requires cooperation between two parties. They obviously don’t see much interest in cooperating with us,” said Mayor Johnson.
Mayor Johnson also says the city will do what it takes to keep residents and employees working in the area safe.