City leaders discuss financial impact of St. Patrick’s Day

Savannah's St. Patrick's Day Parade 2016

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Savannah is home to one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States, but is it cost effective for the city?

During a council work session on Thursday, city leaders discussed the impact the parade has financially and the measures needed to improve the overall investment.

A city study conducted by Georgia Southern University focused on the overall cost-benefit of the parade, comparing expenses to those of city festivals in Charleston and Memphis.

According to the study, Savannah spends nearly $500,000 on various costs for the St. Patrick’s Day festival.

Roughly $372,000 of that goes towards overtime pay for the Savannah Police Department. During other weekends in March, the city would spend about $100,000.

The study further revealed that the city is not breaking even on the parade, but it is undoubtedly a signature event for Savannah.

The city needs more events like this that are “significant to branding and tourist infrastructure.”

But results are mixed for business owners.

In recent years, the crowds on River Street have decreased and the number of underaged visitors has increased.

As a result, restaurant and store owners have considered closing down because the hassle seems bigger than the reward.


To improve the parade for years to come, the city is also debating on whether to hand over responsibilities to outside companies.

But that would not be a change made for this year’s parade.


City Council will vote at their next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, on a two-day festival (Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17, when the parade will be held).

There are 43 days left until this year’s 194th annual Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade.


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