One million in Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day? What’s really a reasonable estimate?

A Savannah St. Patrick’s parade official suggested that there might be one million people in town over the weekend.

Is that possible?

I don’t think so.

First, let’s consider some ballpark population numbers:
Chatham County: 265,000
Effingham: 52,000
Bryan: 30,000
Liberty: 63,000
Bulloch: 70,000
Jasper County, SC: 25,000
Beaufort County: 162,000

That’s 677,000 people in all those more or less neighboring counties.

Now, what percentage of those people will go to the parade or come into downtown for the partying before or after it? I’m assuming less than half of the residents of Chatham County will be there. Think about all the people who are not interested, who aren’t mobile, who will be working, and so forth. So let’s call it 120,000 from Chatham County, which seems really high to me. How’s that sound? Anyone know of any surveys on the number of immediate area residents who attend?

And let’s say another 100,000 from all those surrounding counties — 1 in every 4 residents. Again, that seems plenty aggressive to me.

A screenshot moments ago of hotel availability -- for a price! -- for St. Pat's in Savannah

And we have about 15,000 hotel rooms, and they aren’t quite all booked at the moment. Take a look at the screenshot to the left of availability as of today (Thursday) for Saturday. And look at the price! Wow, would anyone really pay that? Perhaps yes. If you’re a group of four looking to party hard all day Saturday and then crash, $100 per person for a bed might not seem unreasonable.

But even if we max out all those hotel rooms with 4 people, that’s only 60,000 visitors.

There are about 100,000 households in Chatham County. Maybe 25% of them have an average of two out of town guests? Again, that seems like a really high estimate, but there’s another 50,000 who could be at the parade.

So I’m just up to 330,000 people. The rest would have to be daytrippers who don’t have local accommodations and who are driving in from more than an hour away. How many of those will there be?

I guess I’m dubious even of my estimates here, which seem generous to me. So I’ll give a big ballpark of possibility: 250,000 to 400,000.

We have a huge St. Patrick’s Day parade, and I don’t really think we do ourselves any favors by overestimating the crowds — that will just discourage some potential visitors. Most years, there’s parking available out here near my house on 32nd St. until an hour or so before the parade starts. It’s less than a mile to walk to great spots on the parade route. I’d focus on the ease of that in and out rather than focus on the crowds.

By the way, I don’t really have a dog in this hunt. If someone has some compelling evidence that the attendance is far higher, please let me know what it is either in a comment or message. I’ll be glad to revise this with any relevant info.