When I shared my Springtime Fun List with you I admitted that I had gotten a head start on it. THIS–attending our first Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade–is one of biggest things Gene and I decided to do this spring…even though it happened a few days before spring actually began.
The thing is, spring started WEEKS ago here in Coastal Georgia! We welcomed March with a high of 89 degrees! Yep. 89. Now we all KNOW that when spring break rolls around the temps are going to be too cold to (comfortably) go to the beach, but we did NOT anticipate lows of 28 in mid-March! All this to say, when you decide to go to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah, there’s just no telling how many layers you’ll need to wear!
Gene and I have lived in the Savannah area about 4 years now, and decided that we should go to the parade at least once and check that box, so to speak. This seemed to be a good year to do it, so we did!
Savannah does St. Patrick’s Day in a big, big way! Predictions are that between 400,000 and 500,000 people converge on Savannah over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend! CRAZY! The parade is one of the biggest in the United States. I think it’s accurate to say that we were intimidated about wading into that kind of crazy!
We made a couple of GREAT decisions. FIRST we decided to buy tickets from The Savannah Theatre for their parade experience package. The package included:
- Reserved bleacher seats along the parade route in Chippewa Square
- Continuously served hot breakfast from 7:00 to 10:00 AM and continuously served hot lunch from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM
- Private cash bar with one complimentary drink ticket
- Private, clean restrooms
- Security on duty
Yes, please! We wanted ALL of that! (Well, the bar wasn’t necessary, but everything else definitely made us very happy!)
ALSO, we purchased shuttle tickets from the Pooler Chamber of Commerce. We got on their shuttle in Pooler and got dropped off in Savannah! No driving into the chaos = another smart move.
SO! We arrived in Savannah around 9:00 AM wearing multiple layers of clothing since the temp was a brisk 30 degrees when we left the house. We strolled over to Bryson Hall, the venue operated by The Savannah Theatre and located just around the corner from the theatre, and got settled in. Bryson Hall is lovely, and it was set up beautifully for us. We fixed a plate from the breakfast buffet and sat at a table right beside a huge window at the front of the venue. Talk about a view! We were toasty warm as we ate and watched everyone out in the cold getting set up along the sidewalks. Later we headed out to our reserved bleachers on the parade route just steps away from Bryson Hall.
The parade started at 10:15 AM, but it was 11:30 AM before it got to our location. What fun! Later we ducked back into Bryson Hall to eat lunch while watching the parade through “our” window. Talk about perfect! We went back to the bleachers to watch the last bit of the parade. It ended a little after 2:30 PM!
We SO enjoyed not having to arrive super early in the morning to claim a spot along the parade route. We also liked not having to lug food and drinks with us or trying to find a place to eat. I can’t even imagine having to do that. We had a great day and really enjoyed the whole experience!
Now, about the parade itself! I was surprised by several things.
- A huge part of the parade is made up of families with Irish roots walking together. At first I thought it was all slightly odd, but the more I think about it the more I see that it must be a fun tradition for these families. They dress up for the occasion, and the grandfathers sure did seem to enjoy carrying the youngest grandkids and showing them off!
- I expected bagpipes but was thrilled with SO MANY bagpipes! We saw multiple bagpipe bands from all over the country and even from overseas.
- The kissing thing kind of freaked me out! Apparently it’s QUITE the thing for ladies to wear red lipstick and kiss men on their cheeks. Young ladies (and older ones) repeatedly rushed from the sidewalks to kiss men who were marching by in the parade. I have to tell you, I’m still shaking my head over this one! On the one hand, it’s fairly harmless. On the other hand, if MEN did this to WOMEN it would be considered a huge problem! I kind of felt bad for the soldiers (and especially the young men from Savannah’s Benedictine Military School (private high school) who got rushed by these women. Admittedly, few of the guys seemed to mind, so maybe it’s just me who has a problem with it.
- We were pleasantly surprised at the behavior of the crowds! Most people seemed to be having a good time without being totally inebriated. The groups who had set up tents in the squares seemed to be a bit, ahem, more boisterous in their celebrating, but it didn’t seem to get out of hand.
Gene and I decided that this isn’t something we want to do every year, but we’re glad we went this year!
How did YOU celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Is it a big deal where you live?