SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The second the clock struck 6 a.m. on Friday, dedicated celebrators in green rushed to the squares to set up tables, chairs, tents, and lots of food and drinks.

The tradition is one many take part in every year here, but for some, the land rush was their first Savannah experience. 

“Family, they came down here, they lived down here for a while. And then my wife, she went to SCAD, so I’m getting the tour of the city by getting up at 5 and doing this,” first-time Savannah visitor Matt Young said.

One thing was quickly made clear — St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah is different than anywhere else. 

“We’re ready to get after it, have some Guinness, and get it flowing here soon. We’ve done Chicago, but this is different. This is another level; I’ll say that for sure,” says Young.

But for others, getting out early for the parade is a time-honored tradition. 

“I’ve come to every parade. I usually get here real early, and I go walk around. I see friends, family, lots of times I go to the cathedral at 8 o’clock mass and just have a great time,” said Christy Cook, who is spending her 32nd straight St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah.

After the parade made a smaller return last year, off the back of a two-year COVID-related hiatus, people were overjoyed to see celebrations back in full force.  

“It was really sad and hard for a lot of people to not have the parade for two years. It’s only been canceled one time before for the Spanish Flu — I think it was 1918. So, that’s never happened, and we’re just so happy that we have it again this year,” Cook said.