Savannah cleans up after St. Patrick’s Day mess

SAVANNAH | When 500,000 locals and tourists congregate to celebrate Savannah’s favorite holiday for three full days, things can get pretty messy.

Trash is an inevitable side effect of St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, but the most populated areas were swept nightly by city cleanup crews

The crowds were thinner on River Street on Sunday, and the popular tourist destination was mostly back to its standard operating condition Sunday afternoon, spare a few trash bags here and there.

That’s largely because of the overnight work of city sanitation employees. The cleanup vanguard began their nightly work as the festivities began to die down — usually around 3 a.m.

They swept the parade route and marched east from the west end of River Street, combing the waterfront for trash. They blew the litter into piles and pressure-washed the River Street Plaza and cobblestone.

“They call it the St. Patrick’s Day miracle, but the fact that our downtown returned to such a clean condition each day is a testament to the vigilance and hard work of our employees,” said City Sanitation Bureau Chief Gene Prevatt.

Further south, city employees focused on cleaning up the squares in the festival area. Traffic crews hand-monitored busy traffic intersections. Interdepartmental teams consisting of revenue and zoning Inspectors, fire marshals, ambassadors and the Downtown Enforcement Team monitored occupancy levels, wristband compliance, alcohol sales and consumption, illegal vending, illegal dumping, blocked lanes, and compliance with the Tour Service Ordinance and other City codes during the festival.

Tourism management and ambassadorship director Bridget Lidy said the cleanup went well.

“This was a collaborative effort involving several City departments, and I couldn’t be prouder of how everyone worked together,” Lidy said.

City employees weren’t the only folks fighting for normalcy. William Todd was on River Street picking up trash left behind by festival goers. He was volunteering with a cleanup crew from Tondee’s Tavern, a restaurant and bar located on Bay Street.

“I am, at the moment, dating someone who is a part of the (Tondee’s) family, so I have to keep up a good image. They told me it would be fun,” Todd said with a smile. “But it’s also nice to be out here helping clean up. After every special event holiday, they’re out here.”

A few members of a Savannah Riverboat crew wheeled a dolly full of trash bags up the Abercorn access ramp on River Street. Their captain, Joe Gardiana was there with them, throwing trash bags from the boat into the dumpster.

“I wouldn’t ask my crew to do anything I wouldn’t do,” Gardiana said. “This is an everyday thing for the crew, but you should’ve seen the dumpsters before they took them off this morning. There was quite a bit of trash.”

On the west side of River Street, Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub was still standing, despite the hordes of festival goers seeking an authentic Irish Pub experience.

Tara Reese, the public relations manager for Kevin Barry’s, said the festival went well. She said the award-winning pub went through 30 kegs of Guinness in the first 24 hours, and by the time they closed early Sunday morning, all 96 kegs they ordered for St. Patrick’s day had been emptied.

Reese said one couple celebrated an especially meaningful St. Patrick’s Day memory at Kevin Barry’s. The now-married Una and Craigger Fee-White met at the bar on St. Patrick’s Day last year, and they returned this year for their honeymoon.

The Fee-Whites were just two in the sea of people that makes up the pub’s busiest weekend of the year. Reese said she was proud of the pub’s workers and lauded their high spirits in the face of the daunting task that is servicing a bar on St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah year.

“This time of year is my favorite time of year personally. I stayed up and tried to motivate the staff who were down in the trenches,” Reese said. “Everyone worked hard, from the owner to the maintenance guys. Nobody ever said ‘that’s not my job’ or complained. People were doing everything they could to help out.”

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