The City of Savannah outlined the key points for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day celebration this morning, with a particular emphasis on keeping trash and litter in the squares to a minimum.
"You've seen the photos, we've lived throught it all. We can do better as a community," said the City's Susan Broker, referring to viral photos from last year's celebration in which Wright Square was nearly overrun with discarded styrofoam coolers and other detritus from the party.
"We are asking this year that people not bring styrofoam at all into the squares," she said.
Another issue, described by Broker as "trampling on greenscapes," she addressed by saying "we are asking people to please help us take care of these wonderful assets we have."
The timing of this year's celebrations will be unusual.
The "official" City of Savannah celebration will begin Friday, March 13 at 6 p.m., and end Sunday, March 15 at 6 p.m.
To legally drink from a to-go cup in the "festival zone," which comprises most all of the Historic District, you are urged to purchase a wristband at $10 per day. The revenue goes to cover cleanup costs.
"The wristband is like a $10 cover charge for the party," is how Savannah's Waterfront Director Julie Musselman describes it.
The actual St. Patrick's Day Parade itself, however, doesn't happen until Tuesday March 17, and thus will be outside of the official City of Savannah celebration period.
This means no wristband will be required for to-go cup usage.
City Parking and Mobility Services Director Sean Brandon had some useful advice for the entire celebration, especially on parade day itself.
"We encourage people to look at other forms of transportation (other than by car), particularly on Saturday and Tuesday," Brandon said.
All City garages will be open for use on St. Patrick's Day for a flat $20 per day rate. Since many people will have to work downtown on parade day, Brandon said if you usually have a reserved space, you must be in it by 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, otherwise it's first-come, first-served.
Brandon said for garages, this will be the first year of credit card-only transactions for the garage parking fee.
An official rideshare dropoff point will be in use on Indian Street as per usual, Brandon said. But the City will experiment with a second dropoff point just off Johnson Square.
The entire Chatham Area Transit (CAT) system will be fare-free all day Tuesday, and the usual CAT shuttles will be in operation, with a pickup/dropoff point downtown at Oglethorpe near Price.
Brandon says there will be "heavy enforcement" of parking offenders who park their vehicles in bike lanes and on sidewalks.
The usual "land rush" for coveted spaces in downtown squares along the parade route will once again begin no earlier than 6 a.m. Those caught setting up overnight will be asked to leave and re-enter at 6 a.m. or later.