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Las Vegas, Nevada
July 24, 2009
From journal A Home Exchange in Ponte Vedra Beach Florida
April 16, 2007
From journal St. Patrick's Day weekend in Savannah
Charlotte, North Carolina
February 7, 2005
Usually a day or two prior to March 17th, the Tara Feis Festival is held. This traditional Irish festival has been celebrating the Wearing O’ The Green for more than 10 years. They offer a festival of traditional Irish music and dance. They also offer food vendors with Irish fare, and you can also find Irish crafters on-hand.
Several other events round out the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. There is a St. Patrick’s Day Encampment, usually on March 16th. Held at Ft. Pulaski, it tells the story of Confederate soldiers of Irish descent who defended Ft. Pulaski in 1862. On the 16th, there is also the Sgt. Williams Jasper Memorial Ceremony, which pays tribute to a fallen Irish patriot during the Revolutionary War and honors all members of the Armed Forces of Irish decent. Also on March 16th, around many of the court squares, you can catch some of the bands that will be marching in the parade. They have mini-parades through the streets.
The parade gets its official start at 8:30am with a Mass held at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The service is open to everyone. The parade gets into high gear at around 10:15am. When you get into town, you will find an official guide all over town, which gives the parade route. Or before you go you can visit www.savannahvisit.com for information on the parade and activities. The parade, usually consisting of about 250 units, offers floats, marching bands, military units, and much more.
The origins of the parade date back to the Hibernian Society, which is the oldest Irish society in the states. Thirteen Protestants gathered together and marched in a private procession to Independent Presbyterian Church. For many years, Irish families gathered together to march in a display of pride. It was not until 1870 that the parade started to include marching units and floats, as well as an official grand marshal. You will want to arrive early to ensure you get a great seat along the parade route.
From its small beginnings to a full out-and-out party, the party offers something for everyone. But with this many people in one place, it also brings its share of problems. The biggest problem is the traffic. It is almost impossible to get around or find parking. The local bus service does offer shuttles from several places, such as Oglethorpe Mall, to downtown. Again, check the website for exact pick-up spots. If you are here just for the sightseeing, you might as well forget it. Many businesses close for St. Patrick’s Day. While Savannah is very safe, still take precautions in a large crowd such as this. Keep your money and other valuables somewhere safe and out of reach. And with all of the green beer flowing, there will be problems with drunks. If you are down on River Street for any of the parties, you must buy a wristband in order to drink on the street. Otherwise, you need to limit your drinking to the bars. But the police department does a pretty good job of keeping things under control. So have fun and stay safe.
From journal St. Patrick's Day Fun-Savannah Style
Savannah has a very substantial Irish population. The celebration is the second-largest celebration in the U.S. Only Boston has a bigger celebration. Since my blood is substantially green, a few years ago my husband and I decided to check out the festivities in Savannah. The normally small Southern city swells almost 500,000 partygoers in town for the fun. If St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend, then double that amount. The length of celebration also depends on what day of the week it falls on. If the celebration falls at the beginning of the week, then most visitors come a day or two before and leave March 18th. If the celebration falls toward the end of the week, then the celebration usually goes on all weekend long.
For more than 180 years now, Savannah has rolled out its green carpet, welcoming visitors in search of St. Patty’s Day fun. Everything here is turned green for the occasion. The river turns green, eggs and grits turn up green at the restaurants, green water dances in the fountains, and beer is given a green tint. Drink too much, though, and you are sure to turn green! Don’t worry if you’re not Irish—everyone here is Irish, at least for the day.
by Armed With Passport
Miromar Lakes, Florida
May 7, 2002
The parade is simply a lot of fun. It has a unique quality of being fun for families as well as serious beer-drinking partiers. The old Savannahians really come out and are proud of their event. Men and women in emerald green blazers are the parade organizers; I believe it is this support from the landed elite that really makes the parade a success. Floats, high school bands, military regiments, and corporate sponsors all come out for this parade that seems to never end.
There is a wonderful tradition for young women to put on lots of lipstick and plant kisses on the faces of the military men as they pass by. It is pretty humorous to see a fifteen year old military school kid try to keep a stoic face as a ruby-lipped college girl plops a smacker on his cheek. All the men and boys marching have lip prints on their cheeks as they stride through historic Savannah.
The best places to watch the parade seem to be Calhoun Square and the Judges' Stand at the end on Bull Street near the DeSoto Hilton. It seems like locals go to Calhoun Square and claim their spots early with lawn chairs and beer coolers. We stayed at the DeSoto Hilton, which was a nice Hilton property, but it was more important for being right next to the Judges' Stand. The Hilton also serves breakfast to go and beers to go from its front steps and has easy bathroom access in one of its conference rooms. (Trust me, this is crucial).
The serious drinkers skip the parade and spend the whole day on River Street, which is cordoned off for the celebration. Only by passing through a strict security and ID checkpoint are you allowed down to this area. You still need to go through here even if you don't drink. Having a beer in the River Street area without a wristband will get you a fine.
The mood on River Street is quite festive, to use an understatement; however, it does not get out of control like in New Orleans. Flashing is not a tradition here and the police will take care of you pretty quickly if you do. There are live bands at the east end of River Street and all restaurants and bars serve beer from takeout windows in "go-cups".
I was not so interested in River Street. We went instead to O'Connell's and Malone's. Both are great places to go for Guinness or whiskey. The crowd at both was pretty young.
From journal Savannah - "The Book", St. Paddy's and Beyond
October 15, 2000
From journal Savannah, America's first planned city