March 14, 2008
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) -- Police briefly halted Savannah's sprawling
St. Patrick's Day parade Friday when a 15-year-old boy collapsed
among the crowd of thousands and later died after being rushed to a
The death was an uncommon tragedy for this coastal city's
biggest holiday, when up to 400,000 people line the cobblestone
streets with plastic cups of beer to toast the procession of
pipe-and-drum bands, gaudy floats and dignitaries riding in
Savannah-Chatham County police were investigating the death of
the boy, identified as Mark Dorsey of nearby Rincon, but there was
no indication of foul play, spokesman Sgt. Mike Wilson said. Dorsey
had a pre-existing medical condition, Wilson said, that may have
contributed to his death.
Georgia's oldest city has celebrated St. Patrick's Day for 184
years, a tradition started by Irish immigrants who settled here in
the early 19th century. It's since evolved into the city's most
lucrative tourist event and the South's biggest street party
between Mardis Gras and Florida's bustling spring break.
Serious mishaps are a rarity, though the 2004 parade was marred
when a parade convertible veered off the route and plowed into
crowded Wright Square, injuring nine people.
Though Savannah typically marks St. Pat's on the traditional
March 17, the city's largely Catholic parade organizers scheduled
it three days early to avoid celebrating Monday during Holy Week --
the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. It's a quirk of the
calendar that hasn't happened since 1913, and isn't expected again
Throngs of revelers turned out despite any confusion over the
parade's early arrival, though many had more elbow room than
they're used to seeing in the oak-shaded squares and along the
brick sidewalks normally packed with people.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.