NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Businesses and North Myrtle Beach Public Safety prepare for an expected crowd of 30,000 people for the upcoming St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival.
In past years, both Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach held events to celebrate the holiday.
Now, with Myrtle Beach's Oceanfront Merchants Association canceling the downtown festival for 2016, North Myrtle Beach businesses are expecting to pick up a few extra people.
“Every year it seems better and better. We actually opened up on St. Patrick's Day 14 years ago. So, it's a special day for us,” said Kevin Phillips.
A day manager at International Cafe, Phillips anticipates things will only get better this year.
“I know we had some people complaining about us competing with their St. Patrick's Day. With them canceling theirs, it can only help ours,” he added.
Phillips said St. Patrick's Day is always a sight to be seen.
“A sea of green, yup. It's from Hillside all the way down to the boulevard,” he described.
North Myrtle Beach Public Safety works hand in hand with the city to organize the event and keep attendees safe. Lt. Dana Griffin said the event was already showing signs of getting bigger and bigger before OMA made their announcement.
“Each year it does seem to grow. Last year we had 25,000 guests and this year we are expecting 30,000,” Griffin said.
Last year, the city saw its biggest crowd yet.
“We didn't have one incident. No arrests and no reportable incidents. Most of our patrons and the bars and restaurants and local businesses, they actually police themselves very well,” Griffin explained.
“The crowds are pretty happy and mild mannered. The crowds range from little kids and families to young adults to older folks,” Phillips said.
Phillips tells his staff to make sure anyone celebrating the day with alcohol is of age and even though the event has proven to be a success in the past, public safety is there just in case.
“We have 15 officers inside the festival area. Some are directing traffic, making sure people get safely around the closed off streets and barricaded areas. And we also have fire, EMS, paramedics, EMTs on bicycle patrol in case there is any medical emergency,” Griffin said.
Griffin added that combining the parade with the festival makes this event one of the year's biggest for North Myrtle Beach. The day-long festival is scheduled for March 12.
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