Actual Factual Georgia for March 12

Q: Why is St. Patrick’s Day such a big deal in Savannah? What’s the city’s connection to Ireland?

A: Large quantities of alcohol probably have something to do with St. Patrick's Day's massive appeal in Savannah and across the country. Kidding aside, Savannah's Irish connection goes back to the founding of the Georgia colony, a legacy that is honored by a month-long celebration in the coastal city that loves a good time. Groups of Irish were among the diverse group of folks who helped colonize Georgia, so Savannah has a long connection to Ireland. The Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee says the city's first parade honoring the Irish saint was held in 1813, and it has grown to what is considered the second largest parade in the U.S., behind only New York City. It lasts 3½ hours and attracts about 1 million people, and with the holiday falling on a weekend this year, Savannah's party might leave other cities green with envy. The parade is just one part of the celebration that includes turning the water green in the city's many fountains, a pre-parade Mass and the William Jasper ceremony, which honors a soldier who was killed by the British during the American Revolution. Georgia's St. Patrick's Day celebrations aren't limited to Savannah. As expected, the town of Dublin honors the holiday with many festivities that last the entire month, and Atlanta has held a parade since 1858. And if you want to try something new, Georgia Winery and Vineyards in Ringgold is serving green wine every Saturday this month during what it's calling the Shamrock Celebration.

Q: Norcross is an interesting name. Who was the city’s namesake?

A: Jonathan Norcross was a native of Maine and an inventor of industrial equipment who moved to Georgia in the 1830s and eventually became the fourth mayor of Atlanta. Norcross found his way first to Eatonton and then to Marthasville, as Atlanta was known at the time. He opened a lumber mill near Five Points and owned a general store that was called Norcross Corner. Norcross became involved in politics and was elected mayor of the new city in 1851 "as leader of the 'Moral Party' and was credited with 'saving Atlanta' from lawlessness and disobedience," according to his plaque in Norcross. He lost a bid for governor in 1876, died in 1898 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery, 28 years after the city of Norcross was chartered and named for him.

If you’re new in town or have questions about this special place we call home, ask us! E-mail Andy Johnston at q&