Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Patrick's Day in Savannah

This year's St. Patrick's Day in Savannah was beautiful, warm and sunny, but not humid.

It's not so every year. Some years it is rainy and cold and every one is sort of gritting their teeth and the people marching in the parade look wet and miserable.
A cold rain also makes all the drunks mean.

But that was not the case this year. Everyone was happy that I could see, drunk or no.

Savannah has a very old (1824) and large parade and celebration. Some say up to 400,000 attend, I think the number is probably closer to 250,000, but that is plenty large considering the city's population is about 140,000. The city pretty much shuts down (a lot of companies give the day off) and many streets are closed to traffic and packed with people.

I have been going to the parade on and off for more than 25 years now, and in the last 10 years or so, the city and various merchant associations, along with the police, have made an effort to control the mayhem. The drinking and crazy behavior were totally out of hand, and people were staying away because of the possibility of getting barfed on or caught up in some kind of fight or other unpleasantness. I have to say that the police seem to thread the needle pretty good between letting people run wild and being too heavy handed in enforcing the law. There's still plenty of drinking and partying in the street, but you're not afraid to bring the kids downtown.
This year I saw an article that says there were only about 190 arrests for the whole week. That's pretty good, considering the amount of people and liquor involved.

Top five offenses:
  • Disorderly conduct -27 arrests
  • Public Urination -17 arrests
  • Seatbelt requirements- 13 violations
  • Affray- 9 arrests
  • Public Intoxication -7 arrests
I like the word "affray".

The parade starts in the morning and is about 3 hours long. People camp out along the route to keep good seats for themselves and their friends, but the secret is to have a friend with a house downtown on the parade route. We've been pretty lucky in this regard and this year we able to hang out at friends' house with a large set of steps everyone could hang out and watch from.

The girls all had fun watching the various bands and eating many cookies.

St Pats Day_20110317_050

Various Pipe and Drum Corps and Bands were marching:

St Pats Day_20110317_010

... and the Savannah area is home to a couple of military bases where the troops have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan, some multiple times, so there is always a large contingent from the army marching, and lots of enthusiastic cheering from the crowd.

St Pats Day_20110317_074

So another St.Patrick's Day weekend has come and gone, so we'll pack up our dumb green t-shirts and other offensive Irish stereotype gear until next year.

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