Vacation

Saint Patrick's Day Showdown: Savannah vs. Atlanta


Saint Patrick’s Day Showdown: Savannah vs. Atlanta

Cameron Albert-DeitchComments

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Illustration by Diego Patiño/The Jacky Winter Group
Illustration by Diego Patiño/The Jacky Winter Group

The Saint Patrick’s Day procession on Peachtree claims bragging rights as Atlanta’s oldest parade, but it’s second fiddle in its own state. Savannah’s parade, recognized nationwide, has drawn more than a million people. How the shindigs stack up.

Savannah
This year the parade turns: 
191 years old
It started after: The port built up a sizable Irish population as immigration patterns took shape in the early 1800s.
Signature parade attraction: Floats change from year to year, but marchers always include military and schools.
Application of green dye: The water of Savannah’s famed Forsyth Park landmark is transformed with the “greening of the fountain” ceremony. (Efforts to color the Savannah River in 1961 were not successful.)
Time (you can attend both!): Tuesday, March 17, 10:15 a.m.
Location: It starts at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist and then winds through historic Savannah.
Additional partying: A weekend of music, food, and beer. (City law shrank “to go” cups from 32 oz. to 16 in 2000.)
Estimated 2015 attendance: 600,000–650,000

Atlanta
This year the parade turns: 133 years old
It started after: The parade was first held in the 1850s but was really promoted after the Civil War; the city became more Irish-friendly after Father Thomas O’Reilly helped prevent General Sherman from burning Atlanta churches in 1864.
Signature parade attraction: The world’s largest Irish walking flag, which can be seen from high-rises miles away.
Application of green dye: The fountains at Woodruff Park are dyed green.
Time (you can attend both!): Saturday, March 14, noon
Location: Peachtree Street in Midtown. (After a century-plus downtown, the parade moved last year.)
Additional partying: Uh, you can wander over to Rí Rá Irish Pub?
Estimated 2015 attendance: 200,000–250,000

This article originally appeared in our March 2015 issue.

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