SAVANNAH, Ga. – Fountains are gushing water colored with bright green dye in the parks and oak-shaded squares of Georgia’s oldest city, signaling that its biggest celebration of the year is drawing near.
Savannah has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a parade for 196 years, and the tradition has ballooned into a lucrative tourist attraction that draws thousands to the city every March 17.
Parade organizers gathered Friday to dump green dye into the wrought-iron fountain at Forsyth Park— and city workers likewise colored the water in other public fountains. It’s something Savannah has done for decades as part of its St. Patrick’s Day preparations.
The 2020 parade will fall on a Tuesday, but will be preceded by a St. Patrick’s festival the weekend before. Joe Marinelli of Visit Savannah, the city’s tourism bureau, said hotels are booked for high occupancy.
At a City Hall event Thursday, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said the celebration will continue — even as some Americans worry about large public gatherings amid rising U.S. cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Parade and festival organizers said they plan to have hand-washing stations amid the usual portable toilets, beer tents and food trucks this year.