Augusta leaders OK security cost for St. Patrick’s Day parade, Juneteenth celebration

Augusta leaders OK security cost for St. Patrick’s Day parade, Juneteenth celebration
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:07 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2023 at 6:21 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Augusta is just around the corner.

But this year, organizers will not have to pay the city to have Richmond County deputies serve as security.

Some city leaders wonder if the city helping pay could cause a slippery slope of even more money gone.

“The fact it’s on a Friday this year, and the fact that we are post-COVID now, we’re definitely expecting a whole lot of people in the taproom,” said Savannah River Brewing Company Taproom Manager Jim Christian.

Savannah River Brewing has been brewing extra for six weeks to prepare for this year’s celebration.

The Augusta Irish Heritage American society says the parade brings business up by around 379 percent.

“We had a great year last year. The first two years to this year have blown out the sales records we did last year, and so I have nothing but high hopes for a big crowd out here on the 17th,” he said.

It’s this economic boom that has some commissioners wanting to help cover a 3,500 security fee for the parade.

Lieutenant Bill Adams with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office said: “There are events say like the Ironman, or the 5K that we just had, which also requires deputies to work, they also pay the special duty rate to also have a deputy there.”

This also includes Soul City Cycle and the pride celebration. While it’s just $3,500 this year, it could turn into the city footing the bill for $21,000 if those groups we mentioned ask.

City leadership says they have never covered non-sponsored events before, and Tuesday’s decision could set a new precedent.

They approved the money for St. Patrick’s Day security and $20,000 for the Juneteenth celebration.

We caught up with Johnny Gregory, the president of Band of Brothers, on what this support means to him.

“Juneteenth is very important. Juneteenth is our Fourth of July, our time to celebrate. And just like any other festival, we want people to come out, celebrate, and have a great time and go home and talk about it the next day,” he said. “It makes me happy we can finally go forward planning the Juneteenth celebration, and we’ll see everybody Monday, June 19th.”

The idea is their economic boom for the city makes the bill worth it. But others are skeptical.

Commissioner for District 5 Bobby Williams said: “Hopefully, in the future, we put down some rules or something because you’re supporting folks that we’ve never supported before, and now, you’re going to have other folks that are going to come forward.”

Commissioner for District 1 Jordan Johnson said: “So the difference here is that the city of Augusta, the county commission voted last year to make the Juneteenth celebration sponsored by the Band of Brothers the official celebration of the city of Augusta.”