St. Patrick's Day - Q&A from the SCMPD

Where can I park?
Answer: All public parking garages will be open. The city web-site has a list of parking garages, their hours of operation, and associated fees. Many people choose to park at the Oglethorpe Mall and catch the CAT bus. The City of Savannah is working to provide bus transportation directly to and from the parade route. Street parking will be at a premium. The best bet would be to GET THERE EARLY! Please remember not to park along the parade route or in any unmarked parking areas. The best rule is this: IF IT'S NOT A PROPERLY MARKED PARKING AREA, DON'T PARK THERE! Parking in what we call "Creative Parking" could result in your car being towed. This year, you can also park on Hutchinson Island and ride the ferry to River Street and back. There are fees for parking on the island and riding the ferry. The ferry service is scheduled to STOP AT 11:00 P.M.
What time does the parade start?
Answer: 10:15 a.m.
If my car is towed, how do I get it back?
Answer: All vehicles illegally parked will be towed at owner's expense. Affected motorists must obtain a vehicle release form from Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police headquarters at Habersham and Oglethorpe Streets in order to claim any towed vehicle. PROOF OF OWNERSHIP is required to obtain a vehicle release form from the Savannah Police Department.
If I bring alcoholic beverages downtown am I going to get into trouble?
Answer: You can NOT bring alcohol onto River Street or into the "gated" area. Bringing alcohol into that area will get you in trouble. Other areas are okay with the right type & size cups. Probably the best rule would be to wait and purchase your drinks in the festival area so it will be in an approved container. Remember, never drink and drive. Always have a designated driver. A designated driver does not drink alcohol, period. Also, bear in mind that dispensing alcohol from a vehicle is a city ordinance violation.
What about "to go" cups?
Answer: All beverages must be in a paper, styro-foam, or plastic cup that can hold no more than 16 ounces. You'll be able to purchase your drinks from vendors in approved cups inside the festival area. No glass bottles or metal containers will be allowed. Leave them at home.
Will there be adequate security?
Answer: Yes. This is the 181st St. Patrick's Day that SCMPD has provided security for the city so it's not something new for us. While we don't want to say exactly what our plans are (So we don't tip our hand!), we can say that we have been involved in the planning for this event from the very beginning. You may, at some point, be asked to show the contents of bags, coolers or back packs by police officers. Please understand they are only doing this for your security. Security is our utmost concern and we are going to great lengths in an effort to ensure your security.
Is SCMPD the only police agency working in the festival area or providing security?
Answer: The Chatham County Sheriff's Department, U S Army Military Police, the Georgia State Patrol, Savannah/Chatham County School Board Police, and the Coast Guard are assisting with security along the parade route and providing extra patrols throughout the city. In particular, GSP will be intensely patrolling the major routes in and out of Savannah. All officers will be strictly enforcing a "zero tolerance" concern for safety and especially DUI's.
What is the festival area?
Answer: It is an area in downtown Savannah with the following boundaries; North of Jones Street to the river, West of East Broad Street, East of Boundary Street and the Talmadge Bridge.
Where can I find some green grits?
Answer: Any local leprechaun can show you.
When do the gates open to River Street?
Answer: 8 a.m. Thursday & 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission to the River Street "Controlled Zone" is free but you must purchase a $5.00 bracelet if you wish to drink alcohol outside of the businesses along River Street.
What's the chance of the crowd getting too big on River Street or the possibility of River Street closing like last year?
Answer: SCMPD works very closely with representatives of the Savannah Waterfront Association to closely monitor the crowds and numbers of people on River Street. We have to do that from a public safety standpoint. If the weather is good, it is entirely possible we may have record crowds. If the crowd gets too big the decision may have to be made to no longer allow anyone else access to River Street, or if people leave River Street not allow them to return, or maybe even a combination of both. Either way SCMPD will be looking out for the greater safety of the public in any action it may be forced to take.
What about portable toilets?
Answer: A very large number of portable toilets will be delivered to River Street and City Market on Wednesday, March 16th. Another forty portable toilets will be allocated along the parade route and then moved to River Street and City Market after the parade. Please don't succumb to the temptation of taking the au naturale' approach. It's not worth getting arrested.
Do I have to buy a bracelet to go down to River Street?
Answer: Absolutely not. The only reason you would have to buy a bracelet would be to drink alcohol outside of businesses in the "Control Zone" of River Street. If you remain inside a business you do not have to purchase a bracelet to drink alcohol. But remember, you must remain inside the business with your drink if you don't have a bracelet.
So, bracelets are only for drinking outside, on River Street?
Answer: Correct.
How do I buy a bracelet?
Answer: Bracelets will be on-sale at a number of locations on River Street. They are $5.00 a piece and must be worn at all times if you are drinking alcoholic beverages. To purchase one you must present a valid I D proving you are 21 or older. The vendor will place the bracelet on your wrist. A bracelet is only good for one day.
Will Bay Street be closed?
Answer: Yes. For pedestrian safety Bay Street will be closed Wednesday and Thursday nights beginning at 8 p.m. It will be barricaded on the west end at MLK Blvd and on the east end at Price Street. Depending on the crowds after the parade we may be forced to close Bat Street early but that will only happen after close inspection by SCMPD and will only occur for pedestrian safety.
Where can I catch a ride from the River Street area?
Answer: Buses and cabs will be allowed to drop off and pick up people at Indian Street on the west end of Bay Street and between East Broad and Price Street on the east end of Bay St.
What do I do if I get a citation?
Answer: Should you receive a citation for violating a city ordinance, it can be handled just like any other ticket, like speeding or running a red light. You can avoid a court appearance by paying the fine in advance at the Recorders Court window in the Chatham County Courthouse, 133 Montgomery Street. You always have the right to appear in court and plead your case. You will be given a court date when you receive the citation. Should you ignore it, you will be found in Contempt of Court. Don't do that! It just makes things much, much worse. The phone number to call about your citation is 912-652-7425.
What happens if I'm arrested?
Answer: There are two scenarios. First, you will be taken to one of two police command posts for proper booking. If it's a state law offense (Affray, Robbery, Theft) you will be taken directly to the Chatham County Detention Center for an arraignment. If it's a city ordinance violation, you will be taken to the Chatham County Court House. There you will be brought before Recorders Court where a judge will set your bond. If you can not make bond, you could face incarceration at the Chatham County Detention Center. These special "Night Court" sessions are only held during the Festival event.
How late will alcohol be served on Thursday, March 17th?
Answer: Actually, businesses are allowed to continue to sell alcoholic beverages until 1 a.m. Friday morning March 18th. On Friday and Saturday nights (actually Saturday and Sunday morning) the bars will close at 3 a.m. That rule remains the same inside the festival area and throughout the rest of the city.
If I or a friend of mine gets sick or hurt, will there be medical assistance available?
Answer: The people at Memorial Health University are graciously providing MEDSTAR personnel that will be on bicycle throughout the parade route and will have their mobile van parked on St. Julian Street in City Market. In addition, they will have personnel on foot and positioned on River Street for minor medical emergencies. Should a major medical emergency occur, SCMPD and Memorial Health will work together to get the proper care, or provide transportation to those affected as quickly and expeditiously as possible.