SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – River street will look a little different during this years Saint Patrick’s festival. Business owners along the river met today to talk preparations for the big weekend celebration.
More space, more money for wristbands, and more personnel are just a few changes coming to this years celebration downtown. But waterfront and downtown businesses are still putting safety and crowd control on the top of their list for the festival.
“This is an all hands on deck operation for us so with the festival dates being Thursday, Friday and Saturday, you see police 24 hours a day,” says Sgt. Eddie Grant with Metro’s special events team.
Prep is about to begin for the sea of green Savannah will be come Thursday morning.
“I do think it’s about safety about everyone having a great time and just trying to control the volume as much as possible,” says Waterfront association executive director Victoria Smith.
That control will begin Wednesday afternoon when police begin blocking off access to the street. The waterfront is adding more personnel for communications as well as security. They’re also adding to the party.
“We have four stages this year so we will have live entertainment from about 10 AM to midnight,” Smith says to a room full of downtown business owners and stakeholders.
The festival zone on river street will now stretch to Morrell Park on the far east end. That’s good news for folks coming from Hutchinson Island because out of the three River street landings, only the Waving Girl landing will be open.
“The ferry did not come into play this year for our decision it was really to spread the crowds and to also offer another venue for folks because it does get so crowded within Rousakis Plaza in the middle so I hope that, that will help.”
Each day visitors to the river and to city market need wristbands. They are doubled this year to ten dollars to pay for increase entertainment and clean up. Also new this year, those purchasing wristbands can do so with plastic. Debit as well as credit cards are being accepted this year for wristband purchases due to a partnership the Downtown Business Association awarded to a vendor.
“It will help not only make, keep River Street safe and help with some of the expenses that we incur as an association as well as the city and hopefully it will help with our streetscape projects,” Smith says.
Closings will begin on River street ramps Wednesday before close of business. Metro wants to make it clear though the road will not officially close until Thursday morning. Deliveries and those who work along the river are asked to come down the MLK boulevard or Fahm Street access ramps.