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Savannah plans trash crackdown for 2020 St. Patrick’s parade

March 18, 2019
Revelers prepare for the 195-year-old St. Patrick's Day parade on one of the city's historic squares, Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Savannah, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — New rules are needed to crack down on littering during Savannah’s sprawling St. Patrick’s Day celebration, city officials said Monday.

Thousands in gaudy green attire packed Savannah’s manicured public squares and its magnolia-lined sidewalks Saturday for the South’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade. And many of them left behind plastic cups, beer cans, paper plates and other garbage.

At a news conference Monday, city leaders said workers and volunteers scooped up an estimated 183 tons (166 metric tons) of trash following the parade and related weekend festivities.

“People get to drinking a little bit and they get sloppy,” said Susan Broker, City Hall’s chief planner for St. Patrick’s Day. “The next thing you know, there’s a lot of litter on the ground.”

For this year’s parade, Savannah officials imposed tougher restrictions on a single area — Chippewa Square, which in recent years had developed a reputation as one of the rowdier party spots along the parade route. So the city banned party tents and tables from that one square this year and beefed up the police presence there.

Instead of solving the problem, Broker said, the single-square crackdown just moved the more raucous crowd — and the worst littering — to neighboring Wright Square, which was smothered in trash after the parade Saturday.

“We know what to do now,” Broker said. “We will be implementing some rules throughout the parade area and enforcing those next year. We have 364 days to get this right, and we’re going to.”

Broker said she’s not advocating a ban on party tents and tables, which are popular with many locals who host large groups during the parade, for all of the squares along the route. But she does plan to seek a total ban on Styrofoam coolers, which Broker said often get left behind and end up broken into small pieces.

City officials couldn’t say Monday how many citations were issued for littering during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter said his department made 19 arrests during the festivities in downtown Savannah, plus 12 drunken-driving arrests throughout the city.

Mayor Eddie DeLoach praised city workers and volunteers for their cleanup efforts over the city’s biggest tourism weekend. The squares and sidewalks downtown were practically spotless as the work week began Monday.

“You walked out here the next day and you didn’t even think anybody had been here,” DeLoach said.

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