Five ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like a local

George Schwartz, last year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade grand marshal, knows first-hand how to get the most out of enjoying Savannah’s big day and he’s sharing his expert advice.

1. MAKE A PLAN

According to Schwartz, there’s two main parts to making a good plan for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day—parking and knowing how you’re getting home.

“Parking is key because they tow 100 cars every year, at least,” Schwartz said. Watch where you park.” For more information about parking options, including city parking garages and ferries, visit the City of Savannah’s website: https://www.savannahga.gov/1182/Parking-Garages-Shuttles-and-Ferries

“There's lots of garages, there's lots of places to find your spot,” Schwartz said. “It’s logistics.” Several rideshare options make it more convenient to devise your plan for not only getting to the parade, but also returning home.

It might sound silly but knowing where to use the restroom is no joke. “Locate the nearest bathroom,” Schwartz said. The City of Savannah is providing 15 different portable toilet and hand sanitizing stations along the parade route. Be sure to locate the one closest to you.

2. DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST

If you want to start the day like a local, find a place to get breakfast before the parade starts. Many of Savannah’s Irish societies start their day with a breakfast. Since 1987, Schwartz has shared breakfast with the adjutant staff—the group wearing white jackets on parade day responsible for coordinating the units.

“We have breakfast, and we all get our list and all our information to go put the parade on,” Schwartz said of the adjutant staff breakfast. “The ones that go to breakfast societies, they have speakers and it's a way to enjoy your morning with your friends.” Schwartz said Clary’s is an option as well as the hotels in Savannah who offer a breakfast buffet before the parade starts.

click to enlarge Five ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like a local
Bailey Davidson
2023 St. Patrick's Day Parade Grand Marshal George Schwarz and Sherrie Schwarz

3. FIND YOUR PLACE

With tens of thousands of visitors making their way to the Hostess City, finding your spot along the parade route is crucial. The parade stretches about three miles long and offers several places to view the parade.

Schwartz has fond memories of being in the parade prior to becoming grand marshal. “I drove a car in a parade when I was 15 years old,” he said. Schwartz also has photos of riding in the back of his grandfather’s car through the parade when he was five or six.

If you are wanting to watch the parade from one of Savannah’s squares, be aware that you are not the only one. Known as the Land Rush, parade goers who want a coveted spot on one of the historic squares run to secure their place. It’s important to know that the night before the parade, the City of Savannah will stage security guards and city marshals in the squares at 10pm and ask everyone to leave the square.

Starting at 6am on the morning of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the city will officially open the squares, allowing for all to secure their spots. Savannah squares on the parade route include Taylor, Oglethorpe, Lafayette, Johnson, Wright, Madison and Chippewa.

4. DRESS TO IMPRESS

For Savannah locals, the day is a special occasion, and they have attire to match. It’s the day of the year where your outfit can and should scream green. “I can't tell you the last time I didn't wear a tie on St. Patrick's Day, a coat and tie,” Schwartz said. “We dress up, its St. Patrick's Day.”

Be sure to check the weather ahead of time to make sure your outfit is appropriate. “Mostly it’s going to be sunny and 70 something…but I’ve been out there with a wool hat and a coat on,” Schwartz said who knows with weather, there’s no guarantee.

5. REMEMBER WHY WE CELEBRATE

“The original idea is to celebrate the work that was done by St. Patrick in bringing the faith of Christianity to Ireland and all that came from that was the great faith that the Irish brought to this country,” said Father Michael Kavanaugh, a native of Savannah who has served at St. Peter’s Catholic Parish for almost nine years.

Schwartz believes it is important to know why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and said, “We're also celebrating our Irish ancestors and how we got here and why we can enjoy this parade.” The day is a celebration of faith, family, and friends. Enjoy it like a local!

     
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