Law enforcement, organizers prepare for St. Patrick's Day events
Law enforcement will be on the lookout for drunken drivers ahead of St. Patrick's Day festivities on Hilton Head Island and in Savannah this weekend -- but they're not saying where.
The S.C. Highway Patrol plans to hold several checkpoints on Friday and Saturday nights, but their placement will depend on traffic conditions, Senior Trooper Hannah Wimberly said. In the past, the checkpoints have been from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on S.C. 315, S.C. 170 and U.S. 17, Wimberly said.
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In 2013, troopers arrested eight people in Beaufort and Jasper counties at DUI checkpoints over St. Patrick's Day weekend, she said.
Drivers should not only arrange for safe transportation but also be aware they could be sharing the road with drunken drivers, Wimberly said.
In addition to the checkpoints, more troopers will be on the highways, and more deputies and officers will be patrolling on the island and in Old Town Bluffton, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and Bluffton Police Department.
St. Patrick's Day events begin in Savannah on Friday with an Irish Heritage Dance at 8 p.m. and culminate in a parade Monday at 10:15 a.m.
Hilton Head, however, features the first parade, at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Hilton Head procession will include dozens of marchers, floats, bands and a state championship Irish dance group, according to Kim Capin, parade committee chairwoman. The StarMakers Dance Company from Inman is making the trip to the island for the parade, she said.
"They're a really impressive group of young girls, so we're excited to have them," Capin said. "We do say on St. Patrick's Day, 'Everyone is Irish,' but to have some of the cultural highlights certainly adds to the parade a great deal."
Last year, the event drew more than 25,000 people, and Capin said she expects a similar turnout Sunday.
Road closings and lane reversals for the route on Pope Avenue will begin at about 2 p.m., according to the Sheriff's Office. No parking will be allowed on either side of the route.
To avoid traffic, drivers not attending the parade should stay away from the south end of the island until after 5 p.m.
The Sheriff's Office has asked parade participants not to throw candy or other prizes from floats, so that children aren't encouraged to run into the street. No motorized scooters or golf carts are allowed along the route.
Vendors in designated areas will sell wine and beer, but consumption of liquor will be restricted to bars and restaurants, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.