City leaders reflect on Savannah’s 195th St. Patrick’s Day parade

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Savannah’s 195th St. Patrick’s Parade is now in the history books.

A day after the actual holiday, city leaders took a look back on what worked and what didn’t.

Leaders in the Hostess City called a news conference in Chippewa Square Monday to discuss this year’s festival and their fight against the biggest problem: litter. 

Chippewa Square was the focus of a concentrated effort to deal with perennial littering there. New rules, more enforcement manpower, and plans for a pop-up Recorders Court worked in the square, but those plans were side-stepped by the litterbugs.

“We knew that that crowd would disburse. We were hoping that they would disburse, you know, not all as one group, but they would go into different squares,” said Susan Broker, Director of the Savannah’s Office for Film, Tourism, & Special Events.

She said that’s what led to litter control going very wrong in nearby Wright Square. Photos on social media showing the trashed square went viral.

But city officials said Wright Square was completed in a few hours with the help of some volunteers.

Plans for a pop-up court, which would have processed some littering citations and other minor offenses, fell through.

“We really could not hold court physically out in the square. It’s just not something we could do,” said Court Administrator Buddy Clay. He added that Recorders Court will hold a special St. Patrick’s Day session to deal with all of the citations on the week of April 14, 2019. 

The overall garbage pick-up numbers for the festival are staggering.

There were 183 tons of trash collected over the two-day festival. 

Leaders say it takes 128,000 plastic cups to weigh a ton. That means the equivalent of nearly 24,000,000 plastic cups were taken out of the festival zone.

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said the crackdown on litter led to other, more serious, arrests.

“One of those arrests involved one of our officers who contacted someone for littering, and actually was in the process of issuing that person a citation for littering, and it ended up with the rest of a convicted felon carrying a weapon,” Minter said. “So that just shows you how something minor can turn into something major.”

Mayor Eddie DeLoach says he’s pleased with this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Savannah.

“I thought things were great. I thought things ran like they needed to run,” DeLoach said. “I think we had a plan and we executed the plan and I think things ran well.”

Minter reports there were underage drinking checks performed at 32 businesses in the festival zone. Of those businesses, 16 failed those compliance checks. 

The chief added there were a dozen DUI arrests made and a total of nearly 250 traffic citations issued between Friday and Sunday.

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