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Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 9:00pm

City Changes St. Patrick's Celebration

Savannah city officials are preparing for another record crowd at this year's St. Patrick's Day festival.

But some are skeptical about upcoming changes.

Every year the city tweaks its St. Patrick's Day plans to manage the crowds as hundreds of thousands of revelers jam the town in the city's largest tourism event.

This year the city is expanding the festival zone where partiers must pay to drink on the street.

"The number one objective is to create a safe and enjoyable event for all people who are in attendance," says Mark Spadoni of the city's Tourism Leadership Council.

Officials say the change is aimed at spreading the crowd around and raising money for years when not as many people are expected.

This year's festival falls on a weekend.

But next year will be on a Monday.

"It gets very crowded down on River Street. I think this will create a much more enjoyable experience," says Spadoni. "At the same time, hopefully, it will spread out the business."

Some downtown businesses question the new rules and their enforcement.

No one has accurate numbers on St. Patrick's Day tourism.

But it's estimated more than 500,000 people could come to Savannah for the big annual party.