Officials encourage designated drivers for St. Patrick's Day -

Officials encourage designated drivers for St. Patrick's Day

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 The 28th annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Atlantic City brought massive crowds into the resort town for the holiday weekend.

The parade began at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon and featured marching bands from area high schools, string bands, Irish step dancers, bagpipers and floats.

Northfield resident, Dan Gordon, said, "It's a good party, you know, when everyone is responsible and nobody is driving."

With thousands of tourists in Atlantic City this weekend for the St. Patrick's Day parade, drinking and driving becomes a concern at night.  Many people that NBC40 spoke with earlier in the day said that they planned on using public transportation services, such as the Jitney, to get home safely at the end of the night.

Tom Kresc, an Atlantic City resident, explained, "We either take a Jitney or we rode our bikes up here, if we're not going to bike home, we will lock them up and get them tomorrow."

A woman in front of Ducktown Tavern said, "I am drunk. I am going on a Jitney because I want to be safe and I want to get home safe, so I am going to take a Jitney."

After serving alcohol to patrons all day, Ducktown Tavern employees say they encourage everyone to get home safe.  General Manager Susan Gifford said, "We pretty much ask people to carpool, have designated drivers, take Jitneys, or taxicabs."

And they aren't the only ones discouraging St. Patty's partiers from getting behind the wheel.

Chairman of the Hero Campaign for Designated Drivers, Bill Elliott, said, "You know that there are about the same number of people that are killed in a year by drunk driving as there are killed by hand guns in America – so it's a serious, serious problem."  He added, "We want to make sure that people get home safely and that no one is endangering themself or anyone else on the road.  Our son was killed by a drunk driver who had been drinking for 12 hours straight and did not have a designated driver.  That's why we're doing this.  The hero of the hero campaign is the designated driver."

The Hero Campaign will be launching their "Jersey Shore Hero Program" again this summer which will encourage local bars to give free soft drinks to a designated driver throughout the night, so that the driver can still be a part of the night out – even if he or she isn't drinking alcohol.  Elliott says bars and taverns throughout New Jersey from Asbury Park to Cape May will be participating this summer.

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