Pedestrians will be steered back to sidewalks on Bay Street and city marshals and police officers will be monitoring parks and squares for underage drinking when the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade kicks off this weekend.
The changes are designed to help ease traffic issues for the influx of crowds expected for the four-day festival that begins Saturday. That’s when additional police officers will be on patrol until early Wednesday morning.
French barricades will line portions of Bay Street on Tuesday to help guide pedestrians to the sidewalks and cross walks. In the past, pedestrian traffic has forced police to disrupt traffic on Bay Street. That disruption affected traffic throughout the festival area.
The parade this year will be directed to the insides of the squares, allowing for the dissipation of traffic afterwards. Those who expect to leave soon after the parade are advised to find parking outside the route.
The majority of the parade route as well as Whitaker Street at East Bay Street will be closed to traffic beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday. This includes Bay Street which closed later in the past. Traffic attempting to circumnavigate the parade route and vehicles affected by the Bay Street closure will have to travel to Anderson or Henry streets.
The parade route will be marked on Monday and vehicles left parked on it will be towed beginning Tuesday at 6 a.m. Owners of towed vehicles can be advised of the location of their vehicle at either police headquarters at Habersham Street and Oglethorpe Avenue or at the West Chatham Precinct on Police Memorial Drive.
Additional parking will be provided Saturday and Tuesday at the Savannah Convention Center across the river. Free buses will shuttle occupants from the parking lots to MLK Jr. Boulevard and Indian Street near the former fire station. Water taxis also will shuttle participants from the Convention Center to downtown. Locations of the water taxi stops on Saturday and Tuesday are posted on the website, along with the location of 411 port-o-lets brought in for the festival and parade.
Police continue to advise those bringing children and adults with medical issues to take photographs of them with cell phone cameras before traveling to the event. If they become separated the photo showing exactly what they look like including their dress can be transmitted easily to each officer downtown. Police remind families that most attendees will be wearing green, so the addition of at least one article with another color might be helpful should they become separated.
Every aspect of the event from parking to parade routes to the placement of port-o-lets can be found on the website of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department at scmpd.org. The link http://scmpd.org/stpatsfestival/ will take viewers directly to the festival site. The link scmpd.org/stpatsparade will focus on the parade only. Information on the site will be updated continuously throughout the day.
With the traditional parade taking place Tuesday, the division of the festival into two events has been amplified. Details for each are highlighted on the Web site, which is divided into the “Festival” and “Parade.”
The interactive Web site for the festival shows streets that potentially could close if traffic increases in green. The streets will turn to red on the Web site when the streets actually close and back to green when they reopen.