SAVANNAH, Ga. -

Thousands of green-garbed party goers jammed into Savannah to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

The parade of more than 300 marching bands, shamrock-decorated floats and chauffeured dignitaries Monday caped a long weekend of celebrating that began Friday. Bars were even allowed to open Sunday for the first time to pump more tourism dollars into the local economy.

It had been more than 10 years since Savannah celebrated St. Patrick's Day in the rain. Most folks who walked in the parade Monday were decked out in their Irish gear with an extra layer of plastic, trying to stay dry.

The St. Patrick's Day parade is a 190-year-old tradition in Savannah. It was started by Irish immigrants to the Georgia coast in 1824.

The celebration is now Savannah's biggest tourist attraction of the year. The city visitor bureau says most of the 15,000 hotel rooms in town were booked for St. Patrick's Day this year, despite the holiday falling at the start of a work week.