As Hilton Head Island and Savannah celebrate St. Patrick's Day on the same weekend -- an unusual occurance -- law enforcement are preparing for increased patrols, checkpoints and crowd control measures.
S.C. Highway Patrol has scheduled a DUI Blitz on Friday and Saturday in Beaufort and Jasper counties, with extra troopers on the road keeping an eye out for drunk and impaired drivers.
On Friday, troopers will set up a checkpoint at 11 p.m. on S.C. 46 at Pine Arbor Road, with no set ending time.
On Saturday, a checkpoint is slated at 11 p.m. on the South Carolina-Georgia state line at U.S. 17 and S.C. 315, according to Highway Patrol.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety, which includes the Highway Patrol, has launched outreach initiatives including public service announcements on the radio and other media to encourage people to get a designated driver instead of getting behind the wheel.
Though troopers will be out in force, other motorists can report suspected impaired driving by dialing #HP (#47) on their phones. The free call is directed by a dispatcher to the nearest trooper, according to Highway Patrol.
Savannah will get a jump start on St. Patrick's Day festivities with its parade on Saturday. Hilton Head Island's parade, now in its 30th year, will be Sunday.
Hilton Head organizers usually schedule the local parade for the week before Savannah's, unless St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday as it did this year, said Kim Capin, chair of the parade committee.
Capin said she thinks it's great that both parades will be held the same weekend.
"We're hoping people will go to both," she said.
The scheduling allows the Budweiser Clydesdales to once again appear in the Hilton Head event. Capin said the team of horses from St. Louis hasn't been in the island's parade for years because it doesn't travel to the area two weekends in a row.
The Clydesdales will join several marching bands, hundreds of marchers, firetrucks and a special founder's float to carry parade founder Tom Reilley of Reilley's Bar & Grill and other longtime volunteers and organizers who have kept the parade going through the years, Capin said.
Beaufort County Sheriff's Office deputies will patrol the parade route. The procession begins at 3 p.m. at the parking lot at 102 Pope Ave. near Coligny Circle and ends at Park Plaza, 33 Office Park Drive. It is expected to last two hours and draw 25,000 people.
Road closures and lane reversals will begin at 2 p.m., and traffic delays will be expected throughout the day. To avoid congestion, motorists should limit travel in the area until after 5 p.m., according the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
No parking is allowed on either side of the parade route.
Vendors can serve beer and wine in designated areas, but liquor drinks will only be allowed inside bars and restaurants.
Parade participants are barred from throwing candy or other prizes from floats to discourage children from running into the roadway. Personal golf carts and motorized scooters are also prohibited from the parade route, according to the Sheriff's Office.
A Sheriff's Office command post will be set up near the parade's starting point in the Coligny Beach parking lot.