Savannah, GA – March 17, 2011 – “Erin Go Bragh”!
Pennie Tour visited Savannah, Georgia to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day 2011! This celebration is the city’s largest annual celebration and the second largest St. Patrick’s Day gathering in the United States. Festivities go on for several days and attract around 400,000 Irish, honorary Irish and local visitors each year. The popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade and other fun Irish themed events attract visitors from around the United States and from around the world.
Savannah kicks off the celebration by hosting a three-hour parade that consists of over 350 units, including several U.S. military divisions, many award-winning bands, and the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Some of the bands included the 282nd U.S. Army Band (Fort Jackson, S.C.), The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps (Fort Myers, VA), U.S. Coast Guard Pipes and Drums (Norfolk, VA), Irish Air Corps Pipes and Drums (Dublin, Ireland), and many more outstanding marching units. We loved watching the military participants in the parade get bombarded with kisses as they marched. Soldiers displayed these red kisses with pride! “Kiss Me, I’m Irish,” is a reference to The Blarney Stone. Legend holds that kissing the stone brings good luck. If you can’t make it to Ireland to kiss the actual stone, convention says the next-best option is to kiss an Irishman. If you are in Savannah, Georgia, the tradition is to kiss the marching military in the parade. So, next time you visit Savannah for Saint Patrick’s Day, bring your red lipstick and prepare to shower the marching soldiers with kisses.
Regardless of race, color or creed, everyone’s Irish on March 17th. River Street was a sea of green as thousands of Irish, honorary Irish, and locals gathered to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Paying tribute to what started as a religious feast for Ireland’s patron saint has turned into a global phenomenon featuring green beer, green rivers, and green attire. Savannah even dyes its downtown city fountains green in celebration! And, of course, we can’t forget about the leprechaun sightings! Ireland is known as the Land O ‘Leprechauns, so Pennie Tour was curious to see if there were leprechauns in Savannah. After many sightings of those thought to be leprechauns, our quest to find a Savannah leprechaun became more intense. In Irish folklore, leprechauns were cranky tricksters who you wouldn’t want to mess with. It is believed that wearing green made you invisible to leprechauns, who would pinch and steal anyone they could see that was not wearing green. People began pinching those not wearing green on St. Paddy’s Day as a reminder to beware of the wily little sprites. Pennie Tour was tickled green to finally catch up with a Savannah leprechaun!
Pennie Tour was also curious to find out about traditional Irish food that should be eaten on Saint Patrick’s Day. Corned beef and cabbage was at the top of the list. We also heard about green grits and beer soaked meatballs, as well as green beer. Of course, the best way to wash all that Irish food down is with a good Irish beer. Guinness was the overall favorite. Did you know that Guinness has only four ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast and water? Guinness has fewer calories than a pint of orange juice or skim milk!
Celebrating Ireland’s Patron Saint on March 17 is a way to identify with the Irish and celebrate after a long cold winter and a break from the abstinence from liquor that many Irish Catholics undertake for Lent, which also occurs at this time of the year. Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Savannah is a way to get into the true Irish spirit and allows everyone to be “Irish for the day”.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.