Savannah Residents Win Partial Victory Against Mike Pence’s Attempts To Alter St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

Mike Pence's desire to ban all signs in Savannah's St. Patrick's Day Parade is the latest in a string of recent Trump Administration controversies.

Mike Pence mother Nancy Pence Fritsch in Savannah St. Patrick's Day parade
Stephen B. Morton / AP Images

Mike Pence's desire to ban all signs in Savannah's St. Patrick's Day Parade is the latest in a string of recent Trump Administration controversies.

Savannah, Georgia, is home to an annual St. Patrick’s Day parade that is known for revelry and merriment. This tradition was threatened by Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to visit the parade, but residents didn’t simply accept his proposed changes. Instead, they adamantly stood against them and were able to win back at least one of their methods for celebrating the green-soaked holiday.

Destroying the Mood of St. Patrick’s Day

When Mike Pence announced he wanted to celebrate his Irish heritage in Savannah, he didn’t just add the typical inconveniences of a high-profile political visit to the city’s parade. In fact, he added an exorbitantly long list of items that were prohibited from entering a 12-block control zone maintained by the Secret Service. The first targeted item on the conservative’s list? Non-approved alcohol. To help ensure no one snuck in a bit of St. Patrick’s Day fun, Pence also banned coolers and kegs from the festivities.

Savannah Today reported that chairs and backpacks were excluded too, which was a huge issue for families and other parade attendees who usually arrive several hours early to secure a spot. Of course, the Secret Service also prevented anyone from entering or exiting the area before 7 a.m. this morning, including residents within the 12-block zone, so getting an early spot wasn’t possible anyway.

Crowd watches from sidelines at annual St Patrick's Day parade
  Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

Residents Fight Back

There may have been little the residents could do to change the entire list of restrictions, but the ACLU stepped up to squash one of Mike Pence’s plans. According to Telegram, Vice President Pence didn’t just want to take away alcohol and the ability to sit down while waiting for the parade to start. He also wanted to prohibit any and all signs, including those that supported or protested his appearance.

This violation of each resident’s First Amendment rights was considered to be a step too far, and Savannah officials caved almost immediately after receiving notification of the ACLU’s civil lawsuit. Officials have since back peddled with claims that they erroneously put signs on the banned items list.

No Alcohol for St. Patrick’s Day?

Perhaps understanding that banning all alcohol could lead to a riot, the Secret Service wisely agreed to permit local businesses with a liquor license located within the 12-block control zone to sell alcohol, but they had to use special to-go cups and the liquor had to be consumed exclusively within the zone. In the past, residents were allowed to bring their own alcohol and snacks.

No Firearms Rule

Mike Pence has been vocally supportive of the NRA throughout his entire political career. When he was the governor of Indiana, he even passed legislation that made it legal to carry firearms in school parking lots. He’s also made several speeches defending gun rights, including one in which he said, “I truly believe that firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens makes our families and our communities more safe, not less safe.” This didn’t prevent him from prohibiting all firearms and ammunition within the control zone, though.

Latest in a Rapid Succession of Controversies

Mike Pence imposing severe restrictions on Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day parade joined a long list of other Trump Administration controversies from this week. Other recent news-grabbing incidents included the firing of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe and Stormy Daniels expanding her adultery claims against President Donald J. Trump.