National News

March 16, 2013

Thousands celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah

SAVANNAH (AP) — Thousands of gaudy green revelers Saturday crammed the oak-shaded squares and sidewalks of downtown Savannah for the St. Patrick’s Day celebration that’s a 189-year-old tradition in Georgia’s oldest city.

Led by bagpipers in green kilts, the parade kicked off just after 10 a.m. and snaked through the streets with more than 300 floats, marching bands, military units marching in formation, and dignitaries in convertibles decorated with shamrocks.

Thirsty customers began lining up at downtown bars not long after sunrise, while more than 1,000 worshippers packed the pews of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Mass that precedes the parade.

Bev Kehayes of Greensboro, N.C., joined friends at Lafayette Square near the start of the parade route. She made special hats festooned with green feathers and flowers just for the occasion.

“It’s good clean fun. Heaven forbid there’s a little alcohol involved,” said Kehayes, who says she’s missed only three St. Patrick’s celebrations in Savannah in the past 29 years.

Started in 1824 by early Irish immigrants to Georgia, the parade has ballooned into a sprawling street party that makes for Savannah’s most profitable tourism event. Hotels across the city are jam-packed, and bars and restaurants count on the celebration to fill their cash registers with green.

The parade also has deep religious roots for Savannah families of Irish descent. The parade’s grand marshal, third-generation Savannahian Jimmy Ray, paused in front of the cathedral near the start of the procession to receive the traditional blessing from Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, the leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah.

“This is a great honor,” Ray said as he knelt to receive his blessing in front of the towering, Gothic church.

Of course, St. Patrick’s Day officially falls on March 17, which is Sunday. But Savannah and other cities with big celebrations such as New York and Chicago held their parades Saturday.

That’s also a longstanding Savannah tradition. Local Catholic church leaders have discouraged Sunday parades and the revelry they attract. The arrangement is preferred by bar owners as well, who by state law can’t open on Sunday if most of their revenues come from booze rather than food.

Kehayes and her friend Sara Farnsworth joined more than 200 people, a mixture of local families and visitors, who camp out every year in Lafayette Square. It was only Farnsworth’s second time in Savannah for the parade.

“It’s chaotic and fun,” she said. “It’s amazing how much people get into the spirit of things and the wonderful green clothes.”

Few were in the spirit more than Kehayes. She brought four boxes containing more than 700 strands of green beads to pass out during the parade. Never mind the metal barricades police erect trying to keep the crowd from mingling too much with the actual parade.

“To bead is a verb, and I bead people who have good attitudes and are smiling, or I may give them to a line of military guys,” Kehayes said. “I consider this an audience participation parade, even though the police don’t always think of it that way.”

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • 10 Things to Know for Thursday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday.

    April 23, 2014

  • US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Justice Department is encouraging nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars to apply for clemency, officials announced Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • High court tosses $3.4M award to child porn victim

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices said Congress should change the law to benefit victims.

    April 23, 2014

  • Airport security vulnerabilities not uncommon

    For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable investment to secure the airplanes themselves.

    April 23, 2014

  • Deal signs bill expanding gun rights in Georgia

    Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation expanding where people with licenses to carry can bring their guns in Georgia.

    April 23, 2014

  • Indian film awards arrive in Tampa, Fla., but why?

    The so-called Bollywood Oscars have been held in Macau, Singapore, London — and now, Tampa?

    April 23, 2014

  • Indictment: Prosecutor targeted in kidnapping plot

    A North Carolina prosecutor was the intended target of an elaborate kidnapping plot, but the kidnappers looked up the wrong address on the Internet and abducted the prosecutor’s father instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage

    As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger voters by de-emphasizing social issues.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

    Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

    April 23, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Wednesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday.

    April 22, 2014