By Shannon Craig

Sure enough, it is that time of year again. Classes let out, students go home and tourists rush in for Savannah’s annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

Due to increases in crowds over the last decade and widespread chaos on the night of the main event, the city of Savannah has changed up the procedure for this year’s festival goers: anyone drinking from River Street to Broughton Street is required to don a wristband.

Going on sale at 7 a.m. on March 15, the $5 wristband will allow party goers access to over 40 live bands on six different stages spread across the “control zone.” This 90 block expanse was deemed party central by the 2013 Savannah Festival Ordinance in order to better define the parameters of what is to be one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day festivals in the country.

The wristband isn’t a revolutionary idea for Savannah; for years folks have been required to purchase a band if they planned to drink on River Street. In the past, a wristband cost close to $20 and confined drinkers to stay within Factor’s Walk and the Savannah River, leaving a majority of the police force to remain confined within the same area. This year’s wristband hopes to spread the crowd out, while also roping them into six smaller party zones.

And the city is making certain that no one has an excuse not to have a wristband.

Twenty-two booth locations set up shop on Friday in the downtown area (City Market, Franklin Square, Ellis Square, St. Julian Street and River Street) to begin selling the first of the two available wristbands. And yes, there are two. The wristband for March 15 will be a different color than the wristband for March 16, meaning that a bracelet must be purchased for each day of the festival.

And if a wristband isn’t purchased?

Anyone drinking within the control zone could be slapped with a $67 fine.

Saturday’s parade will not require a wristband, and alcohol is permitted in a traveler (plastic, 16 oz.) cup north of Jones Street. Parade goers are prompted to carry their IDs throughout the day and into the evening; a valid ID is required for purchase of a wristband and bars within the control zone will still be checking.

For more information, click the link for a map of Wristband & Stage Locations.