Mon., March 14, 2011 4:24pm (EDT)

No Wristbands For Savannah St. Pat's
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 3 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Savannah's St. Patrick's Day festival is really two celebrations.  A family-friendly parade fills the downtown area during the daytime.  Then at night, revelers turn out for a more alcohol-fueled celebration that requires a lot of city resources and planning to keep safe.  (photo Orlando Montoya)
Savannah's St. Patrick's Day festival is really two celebrations. A family-friendly parade fills the downtown area during the daytime. Then at night, revelers turn out for a more alcohol-fueled celebration that requires a lot of city resources and planning to keep safe. (photo Orlando Montoya)
Savannah is taking a "less-is-more" approach to some crowd control measures for its annual St. Patrick's Day festival.

This year's "big green party" will be the first in years without a wristband requirement on the waterfront.

The city implemented wristbands and crowd control barriers to check underage drinking on River Street 12 years ago.

But city officials said, the measures required too much policing and since then, the party has moved on to other areas.

The barriers came down last year.

City spokesman Bret Bell says, eliminating the wristbands will encourage visitors that much more to spread out and not concentrate at the rivier.

"There aren't major changes," Bell says. "We decided to sort of strip back a lot of our major restrictions that we've implemented over the past couple of years and just see how that goes."

Joe Marinelli of Savannah Visit says, the measures encourage festival-goers to flow more freely throughout the Historic District -- not just River Street.

"So we think that by getting people to enjoy a lot of different areas of the historic district -- City Market area, Broughton Street, Whittaker Street, et cetera -- they can really enjoy all that the city has to offer."

Savannah's St. Patrick's Day festival is the nation's second-largest after New York.

It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, making it critical for many businesses.