Friday, November 6, 2009

St. Patrick's Day in Savannah

St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah was an exciting event for me growing up. It was always an official school holiday and that alone made it a favorite holiday for most kids. But the true excitement was just watching everyone transform into Irish overnight. Green was everywhere.

One year we went out for breakfast and the grits were tinted green. They looked a little strange but they tasted fine. And of course all the beer in town was definitely green. The fountain in one of the huge parks downtown had green water spouting one year and I can remember a few times that they dyed the Savannah River green.

Everyone takes St. Patrick’s Day pretty serious in Savannah. It’s the second largest celebration in the United States. That’s pretty big considering Savannah is not a large city by any means. I read that they were expecting about 300,000 to celebrate this year. The parade lasts for hours and I’m sure that the partying started last Friday and will continue through today. The pubs downtown will be packed as everyone gets their Irish on. Tomorrow there will be lots of hangovers as everyone gets themselves back to work and their daily activities but they won’t worry about that today. Today will just be for fun and drink. By tomorrow morning, the debris left from the partiers will be all that’s left of this year’s celebration. I’m sure there will be a few green beads lying around for months.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would start worrying about what we would wear back in January. It had to be Kelly green of course and it needed to be cool. The only problem was we never knew if it would be cold or hot. March 17th in Savannah can be either. We hoped for warm weather so we could show off our Irish attire.

We were too young to be planning to go down for the drinking but back then it was more of a local celebration and the partying didn’t get as wild as it does today. These days St. Patrick’s Day is like Mardi Gras and draws crowds from everywhere. The streets are full of people twenty four hours a day as they make their way from one spot to another looking for another fun party.

Our main focus back then was to go downtown to see and be seen. We were teenage girls after all. One of the things you could count on for the celebration was that it would bring in several Naval ships and sometimes submarines. Well, that meant thousands of sailors in town. And yes, that’s what we went to see. There were white uniforms everywhere and we flirted until we were exhausted from batting our eyelashes. It was such fun and we looked forward to it every year. The sailors of course would follow us around like puppy dogs and we’d be off to find some more. I’m not sure that they understood that we were only interested in the capture.

It was all in fun and at the end of the day we were on the bus heading home but we had enough to talk about for months. The leprechauns and the green outfits were ready to be put away but we knew that we’d have next year’s celebration to look forward to. Savannah would be Irish again next March 17th.

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