City of Savannah officials held a press conference this morning to go over some key changes to this year's St. Patrick's Day celebration — the official marking of which will be Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16 this year.
(The parade will be on Saturday, March 16, not on the actual St. Patrick's Day since that falls on a Sunday.)
Chief among them are big changes to the Chippewa Square area, which was the scene of enormous litter piles and general bad behavior on last year's parade day.
Photos of the aftermath shocked many people on social media in the days following the parade last year.
According to the City's Susan Broker, "No Styrofoam coolers, tables, or tents will be allowed" in Chippewa Square this year.
"One of the issues we had was the amount of Styrofoam left behind," Broker said. "People buy those coolers because they're disposable and they don't have to take them home. We want people to only bring the type of coolers that they’ll use again."
Chairs will be allowed in Chippewa Square, as will be non-Styrofoam coolers.
Alderwoman Carol Bell said about the Chippewa Square issues, "City Council was very insistent about not taking it lightly. We want you to come to our property and take care of it. We want the public to be aware we’re taking this very seriously."
Another big change to Chippewa Square will be the addition of a mobile Recorder's Court on the west side of the square.
"There will be clerks of the court and a judge who will be seeing cases and addressing citations right on site," said Broker.
Generally, the focus this year will be "on litter and underage drinking, and on public intoxication," Broker said. "We want to convey to our residents and to our visitors, come here, have fun, be safe, but follow the laws."
City Director of Parking and Mobility Services Sean Brandon said all parking meters will be enforced on the Friday prior to the Saturday parade, but of course you won't have to pay for parking on Saturday.
However, Brandon stressed that all other parking violations will be enforced, including parking in bike lanes.
"We do not allow folks to park on bike lanes. If you park in a bike lane you will get a citation," he said. "The bike lane does not become a parking lane on parade day."
He also encouraged the use of parking garages in the parade area on Bryan, State, and Whitaker Streets, but reiterated that "please understand once you park there on parade day you will NOT be let out of that garage until the parade course is clear and you get the green light from police."
Chatham Area Transit will run an enhanced schedule during the celebration, all fee-free thanks to payments to CAT from the City of Savannah.
"We strongly encourage folks to use that as an option," Brandon said.