Savannah officials are considering making big changes to the city’s sprawling St. Patrick’s Day celebration, hoping to reduce drunkenness and public littering while boosting business at local bars and restaurants.

Mayor Van Johnson said organizers are moving forward with plans to bring back the South’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade this March 17 after City Hall forced them to unplug each of the past two years amid the fears of the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, an advisory committee has recommended changes to how the city regulates the sprawling, boozy street party surrounding the parade. Proposals include ending a multi-day St. Patrick’s Day festival with outdoor concerts on the shores of Savannah. Outdoor beer and food vendors would no longer be permitted. And party buses from out of town would be denied parking permits.

“The consensus among committee members was that the street activities after the parade evolved into a spring break atmosphere, generating huge amounts of litter, underage drinking and other behaviors that go against the familiar cultural and religious aspects of the day. “, Johnson told reporters at a press conference Thursday.

St. Patrick’s Day is usually the most lucrative time of year in Savannah, where descendants of Irish immigrants have celebrated with a parade since 1824. It’s since become one of the biggest street parties in the South after Tuesday. Fat.

The mayor said the proposed changes to the festivities aim to help local bars and restaurants reap a greater share of the benefits of the Irish holiday, even in parts of town not close to the city center parade route and nightlife districts.

The Savannah City Council is expected to pass the changes Feb. 10.

Johnson promised a decision on whether to grant a permit for this year’s parade by Feb. 21. The city denied a permit due to the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

“I know the city wants it, our community wants it,” Johnson said. “We need it to some extent to get back together.”