River Street A Flood Of Partying People
The battle in the sports room for us writers at the Savannah News-Press was over which day to take off – St. Patrick’s Day or the day/night before St. Paddy’s Day.
It was a spirited discussion, with veterans of the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day experience making valid points on each side. As a newcomer to this scene, I had no basis for which to make a decision. After much deliberation and because I’m a nightlife person, I chose the previous day. I figured the bars would be awesome leading into St. Paddy’s Day – and so they proved to be – and we did not have to be at work until 4 in the afternoon, meaning I could watch the parade.
In hindsight, tho, I should have chosen St. Patrick’s Day because in this normally slow-moving Southern city on the Georgia coast, is something to behold on March 17 and everyone who likes a good party should put it on their Party Bucket List.
First of all, our newspaper’s last-call bar, Pinkie Masters, opened at 6 a.m. I wasn’t there for it for goodness sake, but it showed me people there take this day seriously, indeed.
I lived downtown at the time and while I tried to sleep in, I could not because I could hear tons of activity outside the door. Starting at 8 a.m., there were people everywhere. And I mean everywhere – in the streets, the alleys, all over the place. I later learned that a city of a population of about 150,000 swelled to more than 300,000 on St. Patrick’s Day
Everyone – and I mean everyone – had a beer in their hand. (It was, and still is, legal to drink in the streets in Savannah).
At about 11, the parade started and all those people made their way to the main street with its downtown squares. It wasn’t the parade that was the attraction, but all the people. They were gathering in a central area to party in one big mass.
Everyone here had a beer in their hand, too.
I saw the mayor, already tipsy and headed toward college-student-at-a-fraternity-party status. Somehow, I think he was the first one in Pinky Master’s that day.
A couple hours later, the masses of the younger and more sex-seeing folks headed down to River Street.
It was a scene.
This old-fashioned cobblestone street on the waterfront with a few old restaurants and small bars was shoulder-to-shoulder crowded. I literally could not take in all that was happening in front of me. It took half an hour at least to make it to the prime party spot, a place called Spanky’s, a walk that I could normally do in five minutes.
Spanky’s was insane. River Street expanded out there to a little courtyard and every square inch was filled with a person. Bar managers were hanging out of the upstairs windows waving t-shirts. Suddenly, without warning, a girl leaped up on the top of someone’s shoulders, lifted up her shirt and the managers tossed her a t-shirt.
Next thing I knew, another girl was on shoulders – topless – and was being “handed” through the crowd to her t-shirt. Somewhere along the way she lost her jeans, too, so by the time she arrived within window tossing-distance, all she had on was her G-string.
I later learned this ritual (since canceled, alas) was unofficially known as “Tits For Tease.”
This was both exhilarating and frustrating. Exhilarating because I had never seen a party scene like this before in my young life, let alone out in public. Frustrating because I could not have any beers and it was now time to go to work.
I spent much of that evening looking out the window hearing the sounds of the revelry happening below me.
And I’ll tell you one thing: I did not make that same mistake twice when it became time to discuss the day to be off for St. Patrick’s Day.
Erin Go Bragh!