HERE is some practical advice on how to get downtown and out in one piece, with as little actual driving/parking as possible.
Savannah Metro Police and the City are running a real-time map of road closures and openings during the festival, which will refresh regularly. It’s cool, it works, and it’s at scmpd.org/roadclosures
The Parade Itself
OUR St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts a little after 10 a.m. Friday. It lasts several hours, so pace yourself.
The “official” viewing area for dignitaries and such is on Abercorn near Lafayette Square. Lafayette Square is itself one of the more popular places to watch the parade, and is one of the places where the bands perform their best in order to show their stuff for the TV cameras.
Just don’t think about camping out in any of the squares the night before. You can’t set up your party station in parks and squares until 6 a.m. Friday. NO grills, amplified sound, kegs, advertisements, barriers, or personal bartenders. All your stuff has to be out of the square by 6 p.m. Friday.
In an interesting twist, this marks the third year that the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade will go the “wrong” way around all six downtown squares it negotiates on its route.
The stated reason is for crowd control and safety, to make things easier for any emergency vehicles and also so that festivalgoers won’t be as tempted to cross the parade route to make their way to the many City-installed Porta-Potties.
Parking, Parking, Parking
CITY garage parking for the public on Thursday, March 16, will be limited to make sure monthly passholders can secure a space. Garage parking will be open to the public at 6 a.m. Friday, March 17. Monthly passholders are guaranteed a space until 8 a.m.
The Civic Center Parking Lot is closed for the duration for staging. Visitor Day Passes are NOT valid in City parking garages & lots during March 16–March 19. Residents must pay to park in the garages whether they have a residential permit or not.
Vehicles parking in the garages will not be allowed to exit until after the parade ends.
How ‘bout Hutchinson?
THE Savannah International Trade & Convention Center across the river offers another option at $20 per day per vehicle.
Trade Center parking lot hours are:
Thursday, March 16, 4-11 p.m.
Friday, March 17, 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
Saturday, March 18, 4-11 p.m.
For those parking on Hutchinson Island, Chatham Area Transit offers the fare-free Savannah Belles Ferry service to bring you directly to River Street. There is also a complimentary shuttle to Indian & Fahm Streets at the west end of River Street.
City Hall Landing will NOT be in service. ALL ferry service will go from Trade Center Landing to Waving Girl Landing (by the Marriott), every 20 minutes.
Friday, March 17: Ferry hours 6:30 a.m. – 12:20 a.m. between Trade Center Landing and Waving Girl Landing ONLY. Free shuttle between the Trade Center and Indian & Fahm, 1 p.m.-3 a.m. This shuttle picks up hourly at Indian & Fahm starting at 1 a.m.
Saturday, March 18: Regular ferry hours from 7 a.m.-12:20 a.m. between Trade Center Landing and Waving Girl Landing ONLY. Free shuttle between the Trade Center and Indian & Fahm, 8 a.m.-3 a.m.. This shuttle picks up hourly at the Trade Center starting at 8 a.m.
Get On Your Bike
DON’T forget about the option to just ride your bikes into town! It’s so easy that a lot of people forget to think about it.
The main bike paths north into downtown are on Lincoln Street (northbound traffic only) and Habersham Street.
Lincoln Street is a heavily trafficked route on Parade Day morning, so keep your head on a swivel. Note: The Lincoln Street bike path is unusual in that the lane is on the left side of this one-way, northbound road.
The main bike path south out of downtown is on Price Street (southbound traffic only). This is a more standard bike path than Lincoln Street, but you should still keep aware that not all auto drivers realize it’s there, especially when they want to turn right and think it’s a turn lane.
Washington Avenue is a well-designed east/west corridor to use to get to the aforementioned north/south routes.
Our good friends at the Savannah Bicycle Campaign also offer this sage advice:
“If you are planning to ride your bike on the big day, make sure to bring lights, in case you stay out later than you thought you would, and your lock to protect your bike from mischief. And, of course, wear a helmet and stay alert for impaired, distracted and aggressive drivers.”
Get On The Bus
SO YOU’RE thinking: Wouldn’t it be awesome not to have to drive into downtown to see the parade? Yes. Yes it would be so awesome.
That’s why Chatham Area Transit (CAT) will provide a $5 round–trip park ‘n’ ride St. Patrick’s Day shuttle March 17.
Purchase at shuttle locations using Debit/Credit Card or Cash.
Westside – Pickup at Westside Shopping Center, Hwy 80 in Garden City. Drop off at the Transit Center.
Eastside – Pickup at Island Towne Centre, Hwy 80 on Whitemarsh Island. Drop off at Oglethorpe & Houston.
Southside – Pickup at Savannah Mall, Abercorn & Apache. Drop off at Transit Center.
7-11 a.m. Going To Downtown
Noon-4 p.m. Leaving From Downtown
Purchase of a shuttle wristband entitles you to return on the shuttle, the late-night Savannah Mall shuttle, or any regular route on Friday.
To Westside Shopping Center – 3B Augusta Ave stops about a block away
To Island Towne Centre – 10 East Savannah
To Savannah Mall – 14 Abercorn Local, or take numerous other routes to the Oglethorpe Mall and then transfer.
To return on fixed route buses, catch a CAT from the Transit Center or from other regularly marked bus stops not affected by the parade reroutes.
To return to Savannah Mall on the late-night shuttle, pick it up at the Transit Center ONLY, starting at 8 p.m. and hourly until 2 a.m. The last trip to Savannah Mall will leave the Transit Center at 2 a.m. This shuttle will travel nonstop to Savannah Mall.
NOTE: The late-night Savannah Mall shuttle will also run on Saturday, March 18, 8 p.m -3 a.m. from the Transit Center with nonstop service to the mall. The last trip to Savannah Mall on Saturday, March 18 will leave the Transit Center at 2 a.m. This shuttle will be FREE.
Local routes will run an adjusted schedule and will be free. The 100X Airport Express will run its regular Weekday schedule and will cost its usual $5 one-way, $8 roundtrip. Please use the links below for other schedules on Friday.
During the parade, the following routes will transfer at Oglethorpe & Price:10 East Savannah, 14 Abercorn, 27 Waters, 28 Waters, 31 Skidaway/Sandfly. All other routes will transfer as usual at the Transit Center or other cross town locations.
Route 170X University Express, the fare-free dot shuttle, free Liberty St. Parking Shuttle, and free Senior Circulator service will be suspended on Friday, March 17th.
CAT Bike will not be available.