Petition drives in support of Sullivan's Island St. Patrick's Day Festival after problems with drunks

Controversy brewing over Sullivan's Island St. Patrick's Day festival

SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Sullivan's Island's biggest street party is taking some heat.

There's apparently a movement underway to get rid of the annual St, Patrick's Day celebration because of problems at this year's event.

Problems police say included drunks and assaults on cops.

"We had a big crowd this year and we did have some problems later on, but minor," Bill Dunleavy who owns Dunleavy's Pub on Middle Street.

But Sullivan's Island Police say there were some major problems.

Chief Danny Howard told town council's public safety committee last month that one officer was assaulted, and another was almost bitten.

Howard also said several party goers had to be taken off the island by ambulance because they were so drunk, they couldn't even say their names.

And now there's talk that some people want the street party stopped for good.

Dunleavy says the event just needs some tweaking.

"A friend of mine had a good suggestion. He said you know, there's a tradition up in Boston called the Boston Marathon and they've had that for 119 years, and they had a terrorist attack there. And they didn't throw it out. But here, we had maybe a couple of people who drank too much, urinated somewhere and we're ready to throw this thing out, and it just doesn't make any sense."

Dunleavy believes most Sullivan's Island residents support the St. Patrick's Day party.

He's started a petition drive and says he's getting the signatures to prove it and to make sure the event will be held next year.

"Most of them are shocked this is even going on, that they're thinking of closing it or shutting it down on Saturday."

Sullivan's Island's town administrator says the town is meeting with business owners and residents to try to come up with a compromise.

"We'll explore the event, the negative behavior, how to accommodate large crowds and the parking that goes with it," said Andy Benke.

Bill Dunleavy has some of his own suggestions to make sure the next St. Patrick's Day celebration goes more smoothly.

They include a town ordinance that would ban alcohol from the outside being brought to the party.

Dunleavy also would like to see liquor shots banned at all the participating restaurants and bars.

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