When you think about St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, think Savannah! Eight percent of our historic city is estimated to be Irish and we honor them (and everyone else who is Irish-for-a-day!) by hosting one of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parades. The city’s more liberal adult beverage law adds to the festivities and the holiday is celebrated from March 10th-18th with people traveling from around the globe to our beautiful corner of the world.
The 193rd annual parade will start promptly on March 17th at 10:15 a.m., rain or shine, following this route. Because of the crowds of enthusiastic parade goers, most retail establishments close but, at Cool Savannah Tours and Gifts, we take the opposite approach and we open early to welcome parade goers. You can relax with refreshing Georgia beers, and stock up on St. Patrick Day T-shirts, plus beads, lipsticks and more. And, because we’re right along the parade route (Bay St & Drayton St.), it’s easy to stop in at any time. For more information, you can also follow our Facebook event.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations really begin on Friday, March 10th with the greening of the fountain in Forsyth Park at noon. This is a tradition in historic Savannah and we encourage everyone to attend. This ceremony creates a fantastic photo op as you can then take pictures of friends and family by this iconic 150-year-plus fountain, as it and its accompanying statues spray green water.
This is also the day of the 24th annual March of Dimes’ Shamrock Run 5K, which begins at 6 p.m. Costumes are encouraged and four-legged canine friends are welcome. One hundred percent of registration fees will go directly to the March of Dimes.
On Saturday, March 11, a family-friendly festival will be a “feast for the eyes, ears and palate, with live performances, food, art activities, crafts and games hosted with Irish ceremony, tradition and hospitality.” Located in Emmet Park, the feis kicks off at 11 a.m. and the non-alcoholic party will last until 5 p.m. Local Irish families show pride in their heritage on Tybee Island on March 11, as well, with a parade held from 3 to 5 p.m. If you appreciate bagpipe music, this event is a must.
Irish in Historic Savannah
We have to agree with an article that states “Savannah’s close connection to St. Patrick’s Day was ordained from the beginning.” The first settler baby born here, Georgia Close, arrived on March 17, 1733. The first Irish immigrants in the state of Georgia, by the way, were actually Calvinist Scots who lived in Ireland’s Northern Province, Ulster, starting in the 1600s. They eventually made their way to South Carolina and then Georgia, working as traders, trappers and soldiers.
In the 1830s, Irish men arrived in greater numbers to help build the Central of Georgia Railway. It is reported that “Irish were employed on the railroad because, unlike slaves, their bodies had no commercial value and could be worked to exhaustion with impunity.” About 20 years later, significant numbers of Irish families arrived, escaping the potato famine in their homeland. And, as time passed, prejudice against the Irish lessened and they became an important part of Savannah’s economy and culture.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah was organized in 1813 by 13 Irish Protestants from the Hibernian Society, a private event where they trekked to Independent Presbyterian Church. The first public procession occurred 11 years later when all Irishmen in the area were invited to participate. And the first event that resembled modern parades took place in 1870, one that included bands and a grand marshal.
Today’s parades require a committee of about 700 people and bleacher seat privileges are sold for parade-goers. Parades last about three hours, with members of local Irish organizations sprinkled among the bands, floats and more. To date, three presidents have attended: William Howard Taft, Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter.
Boosting Holiday Cheer with Green Beer
If you enjoy imbibing green beer to celebrate Saint Paddy, then you can purchase a $10 wristband, available at multiple booths. This allows you to “party with a pint in hand” in the festival area, which “stretches from River Street to Broughton Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to East Broad Street.”
Savannah Sightseeing Tours
Savannah sightseeing tours are not permitted on March 17 – and, let’s face it. There’s so much going on that it just wouldn’t be practical. But, we’re offering plenty of tours before and after St. Patrick’s Day, and they sell out fast. So, book your sightseeing tours early, and take advantage of our 15 percent off offer for any tour. Simply use the promo code march17, valid through March 31. This promo code is good for:
Questions? Call 912-231-3571 or contact us online today. And here are more pictures of this fun weeklong event: