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The History of Savannah's St. Patricks Day

22 Feb 2018
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What's the Big Deal with St. Patrick's Day in Savannah?

In the beginning, thirteen members of the local Hibernian Society, the country's oldest Irish society, raised funds and invited local Irishmen to parade through the streets. This first public procession took place in 1824. Yet it was not until 1870 that the first true and recognizable St. Patrick's Day parade in Savannah was created and it had bands and even a "Grand Marshal". The parade which graces the streets in modern day Savannah is very different from the ones of yesteryear. It is now a 3-hour procession, which is organized by a committee of over 700 Irish-American members, which includes numerous organizations, marching bands, and even floats which amble on the streets on March 17th, rain or shine. And there are waves of green attire and accessories everywhere the eye can see. This year they estimate that more than 300,000 people to be involved in the celebrations. And instead of one day of celebrations, we here in Savannah celebrate St. Patrick's Day over 5 days with great festivities each and every day.

Some fun Savannah St. Patrick's Day facts: 

  • Savannah's St. Patrick's Day parade is one the largest parades in the US, right next to New York City, Chicago, and Boston.
  • Three presidents have visited Savannah during the celebration over the years including William Howard Taft, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter.
  • In 1903, twenty-five cadets from Benedictine Military School joined the parade, starting a tradition that continues today.
  • Ironically, St.Patrick's Day is in close association with the Catholics, the first parade in Savannah was organized by Irish Protestants.
  • In the 1600's the first Irish decedents stepped foot in Georgia. They traveled down from South Carolina and were mostly traders, trappers, and soldiers.  The first real wave of Irish immigrants came to Savannah in 1830's to assist in building the Georgia Railways.

Getting to the Festivities

Enjoy the best of both worlds when you stay on Tybee Island for St. Patrick's Day! Tybee Island has accommodations to suit every group's needs. Come for the weekend, enjoy the beautiful weather, watch the Parade in Savannah, then return to Tybee for some well deserved Tybee Time! Have a great time, and let someone else do the driving!  

Tybee Shuttles for St. Patrick's Day Celebrations 

Shuttle – Old Savannah Tours – 912.234.8128

Friday, March 16, 2018
Times-Every 30 minutes from 6:00 p.m-11:00 pm (Last Shuttle @ 11:00 pm Friday Night)
Pickups every 30 minutes at Tybee Lighthouse, Desoto Beach Club & Ocean Plaza. Drops off every 30 minutes at Marriott River Front.
**Price-$15 one way, $20 round trip

Saturday, March 17, 2018 (St. Patrick’s Day)
Times-Every 30 minutes from 6:00 am-2:00 am (Last Shuttle 2:00 am Sunday morning)
Pickups every 30 minutes at Publix (Whitemarsh Island), Tybee Lighthouse, Desoto Beach Club & Ocean Plaza.
Drops off every 30 minutes at Marriott River Front
**Price-$15 one way, $20 round trip

Here is a list of the great St. Patrick's Day celebration events: 

Friday, March 9, 2018 - Greening of the Fountain in Forsyth Park at 12 pm. The Greening ceremony is one of Savannah's biggest traditions. The Forsyth fountain turns the radiant and traditional green in honor of St. Patrick's Day. It is a great and memorable experience for all ages. This is a free event and open to the public. Make sure to bring your camera to capture this fun event.

Friday, March 9, 2018 - March of Dimes Shamrock Run -  Kick off St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah with a 5K through Downtown Savannah. All participants receive a Shamrock Run 5K T-shirt with registration. The proceeds benefit the mission of the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies.

Saturday, March 10th- Tybee Island Irish Heritage Parade on Butler Avenue at 3 pm.  Join us and wear your favorite greens and enjoy this wonderful parade. There will be numerous floats, bagpipers, and community members and businesses marching in this event.

Saturday, March 10th- Savannah 5K Craft Brew Race on Hutchinson Island.  This is a fun and unique 5K run that is followed by a post-race craft beer festival.

Saturday, March 11th- Celtic Cross Ceremony and Reception.  Irish Catholics join together to celebrate their heritage with family and friends in a ceremony at Emmet Park at the Celtic cross statue. Bagpipes play as different members of the Irish community speaks about the past, present, and future. 

Friday, March 16th- Jasper Green Ceremony in Madison Square at 5:00 pm. The annual Sergeant William Jasper Memorial Ceremony takes place the day before St. Patrick’s Day in Madison Square, where a monument honors Jasper and the men. Jasper was a Revolutionary War hero whose parents came to the colonies from Ireland.

Saturday, March 17th- ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE in Savannah at 10:15 am. This year's parade festivities will be greater than ever! The parade route will begin at the corner of Gwinnett and Abercorn. It will make it's way north on Abercorn to Broughton where it will turn east onto East Broad Street. The parade will then turn north on E. Broad and head west on Bay right past City Hall where it takes a left on Bull Street. It will end on Harris Street.