SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Savannah Mayor Van Johnson says COVID cases are moving downward and if the trend continues, the Hostess City will have the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade for the first time in two years.
If the parade and surrounding events indeed take place, the mayor says he wants to see changes.
“I think we’ve all watched St. Patrick’s Day become something that we just don’t want to be representative of Savannah,” said Johnson. “St. Patrick’s Day has morphed into a drunk fest. I’m out during St. Patrick’s Day and I see people laying in the streets. I don’t want their experience with Savannah to be connected to our sidewalk.”
Johnson says 2022 could provide an opportunity to reset the St. Patrick’s Day experience.
“And I think we have to determine what we want (to do moving forward) and this is a good opportunity because we haven’t had the parade to really look at what we want our celebration to be,” he said.
Parade attendance has grown over the years and so has the number of people who come to the Hostess City from out of town, often making their trip into a long weekend. In prior years, law enforcement has made a point to say it has plans in place for making arrests associated with alcohol use.
“I know parents who don’t feel very comfortable bringing their kids downtown during that time and I’ll go further and say it’s not a very inclusive experience. Residents don’t want to take part in what’s happening, and I think that’s unfortunate,” said Johnson.
Johnson says the city is having discussions with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee along with business and tourism officials. He promised more information during a press conference set for Thursday morning.
“I am hoping the parade will definitely be different, but again, it allows us a springboard to be able to create a better experience for not only our residents but also our guests here,” said Johnson.” You know, we’re not going to be the spring break.”
He continued: “I don’t want people saying they came to Savannah but don’t remember what happened.”