The Latest: Pence leaves St. Patrick’s Day parade
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Savannah (all times local):
Vice President Mike Pence has left Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade after walking a short leg of the procession.
Pence paused briefly to shake hands with supporters Saturday while walking about 1/3 mile from City Hall and around two of the city’s oak-shaded squares. He hugged one woman standing with a Trump sign. And the vice president took a group selfie with parade watcher Shannon Lennon and her friends.
A small group of protesters with rainbow flags followed Pence on the sidewalk, waving signs that read “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” and “Mike Pence Is a Homophobe.”
Pence walked with his wife, Karen Pence, and his mother, Nancy Pence-Fritsch.
Vice President Mike Pence has joined the sprawling St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Georgia’s oldest city.
Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, strolled onto the second-floor balcony of Savannah’s City Hall late Saturday morning. They were accompanied by Savannah Mayor Eddie DeLoach.
Crowds behind barricades across the street cheered and chanted “U-S-A” as Pence waved and gave a thumbs up sign.
Plenty of parade goers gave up folding chairs, coolers and other creature comforts to welcome Pence inside the portion of downtown Savannah secured for his visit.
But crowds were leaner than normal in the secure zone, with ample room on some sidewalks and in two nearby squares.
Vice President Mike Pence’s motorcade has arrived at City Hall in Savannah.
A St. Patrick’s Day crowd behind barricades across the street cheered and waved Saturday morning as the line of black SUVs pulled up. There was no immediate sign of Pence. One of the vehicles pulled behind a security screen in front of the building.
Security measures for Pence’s visit have resulted in crowds that are more sparse than normal on St. Patrick’s Day. There were gaps of a few feet between some people along one sidewalk barricade near City Hall. Crowds are often elbow-to-elbow in the heart of downtown Savannah on St. Patrick’s Day.
Turnout for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit is looking sparse compared to a normal St. Patrick’s Day in Georgia’s oldest city.
Organizers of the Savannah parade Saturday estimate about 500,000 will celebrate. But the 12 square blocks secured for Pence’s visit remained largely empty with only 20 minutes left before access was to close for Pence’s arrival Saturday morning.
Erin Perry said “it’s a ghost town” as she smoked a cigarette on a sidewalk with plenty of elbow room. Normally she said there would be standing room only.
Erich Kriesnes and his family had no competition to claim a spot next to the parade route in Wright Square. Neighboring squares outside the secured zone were packed.
Kriesnes said people nearby should behave when Pence arrives because “there’s a 2-to-1 police-to-parade watcher ratio.”
Vice President Mike Pence is heading down to Georgia for the South’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Pence was scheduled Saturday to join an expected 500,000 gaudy green revelers packing the sidewalks and oak-shaded squares of historic Savannah, where the parade marking the March 17 holiday is a 194-year-old tradition.
A giant American flag and star-spangled bunting decorated the second-floor balcony at Savannah City Hall, where Pence was expected to meet Mayor Eddie DeLoach to greet parade participants and spectators.
Authorities secured a dozen square blocks of downtown Savannah for Pence’s visit. Spectators in that area couldn’t bring items such as coolers and folding chairs. City officials initially said signs and posters would also be banned, but backed off after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Friday.
A visit by Vice President Mike Pence got Alexis Hazzard of Savannah to turn out for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade for the first time in seven years.
She was among only about 20 people waiting Saturday morning to pass through one of the six security checkpoints set up for Pence. Sidewalks and squares outside the secure zone were already filled with chairs and party tents.
Hazzard said: “If I’m going to come down here, I’m going to see the vice president.”
She said she was surprised more people weren’t lined up to be in the same area as Pence, but added “I’m fine with less crowd. Less chaos.”
Downtown Savannah is filling up for St. Patrick’s Day, except for the portion of the city’s parade route secured for Vice President Mike Pence.
Johnson Square near City Hall remained empty at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. A nearby security checkpoint with metal detectors was at least a half hour late opening.
Sidewalks and public squares outside the parade route outside the secure zone were filled with party tents and folding chairs before dawn.
Ray Landin and his brother set up their tent, chairs and several coolers just outside the secure zone, which Landin called “the demilitarized zone.” Such items were banned on the other side.
Landin said of Pence: “We’ll welcome him and show him a good time. But it does seem a little restrictive.”