CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The weekend before St. Patrick’s Day brought in large crowds to some popular destinations in the Coastal Empire.
Despite canceled celebrations, both Savannah and Tybee Island dealt with an influx of visitors.
“Well, it was a busy weekend. We had a lot of people in Savannah. Beautiful weather, and a population both internally and external to our city that was COVID tired and ready to do something different,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.
Tired of COVID but ready to party in downtown Savannah.
“I was a little dismayed, said Mayor Johnson, “I’ve gone into a couple of these establishments and clubs and you would not think we are living in the middle of a pandemic. So, I am concerned about the aftermath of those.”
But Mayor Johnson says, despite handing out 27 citations to businesses for not complying with the alcohol ordinance and a few disorderly conduct arrests, things went well.
“Overall, I was pleased with the City of Savannah’s response. We had police officers and city staff out making sure people knew about the mask mandate and passing out masks.”
Meanwhile out on Tybee Island, “it was really busy; it was really crowded,” said Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen.
In fact, City Gillen says even compared pre-COVID years, “It was probably a little more than we’ve seen in the past. I think the nice weather played into that. I think people are ready to get out and come to the beach and it just happened to be a beautiful day.”
Gillen estimates around 20-thousand people came to Tybee Island on Saturday alone, that doesn’t count those already staying there.
Even with the crowds he feels most stayed safe, and aside from an increase in DUI’s, which is typical on big weekends, things went well.
He anticipates they could see a similar turn out for St Patrick’s Day.
“If it’s nice on Wednesday we’ll see a lot of people out here on St. Patrick’s Day.”
For those planning on heading to either Tybee or Savannah, Mayor Johnson says if everyone does the right thing, it can be another great St Patrick’s Day.
“Just wear a mask, just wash your hands, just keep your distance and I think we’ll get through this just fine.”
In total, Savannah Police handed out between 15,000 and 18,000 masks over the weekend. But zero citations were given out.