Have a ball.

Area firefighters will, and the public is invited.

Join firefighters from as far away as Ireland at the Charles Morris Center Trustees' Garden from 6-11 p.m. March 15 for the St. Patrick's Day Firefighter's Ball fundraiser.

Tickets cost $60 per person until March 14. The cost rises to $75 the day of the event.

"This brings everybody together," said organizer Brian Stafford of Stafford Promotions.

Expect an open bar, light hors d'oeuvres, dancing, music from Savannah band Outlaw Gypsy - and New York City firefighters.

"Who doesn't love New York City firefighters after 9/11?" Stafford asked.

Stafford also encouraged his female friends, though dateless, to attend: "There's going to be a lot of firefighters there," Stafford said, laughing. "They don't need a date."

The annual firefighter's ball was moved to St. Patrick's Day weekend four years ago.

"That's a better draw to incorporate all the out-of-town firefighters," said Mike Dodd, president of the Savannah Professional Fire Fighter's Association, also known as the Local 574.

The ball has nearly tripled in size since the move.

"We've had 400 at the event," Dodd said.

"This is one of the biggest organized firefighter socials in the U.S.," Stafford said.

He estimates firefighters will come from 50 cities.They were headed to Savannah anyway for the March 17 parade.

But units march separately in the procession, and out-of-town firefighters like to meet local firefighters, according to Stafford, a former fireman.

"This is a chance to be in at one location at one time," Stafford said. "It's a brotherhood ... It's like a big family no matter where they're from."

It's also a chance for firefighters to relax from serious work and be with coworkers in a different setting.

From trainee to chief, firefighters "can come together and cut up a little bit," according to Stafford.

Significant others of the firefighters enjoy the night, too, Dodd said.

Proceeds help the association help others.

It's in the nature of firefighters to give back, Dodd said.

Yes, they pull people from burning buildings and help at vehicle wreck scenes, but local firefighters also aid in social wellbeing.

America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, feeding 3,800 meals to local children each weekday, benefits from the ball, according to Dodd.

Proceeds also help give bicycle helmets to children through the Justice 4 Children Foundation's Heads in Helmets campaign.

"We wanted to give back on a smaller scale, too," Stafford said.

The ball is also a time for the city's citizens to, in a way, give back to firefighters.

"They're underappreciated for the job that they do," Stafford said. "This is a time for the pubic to come out and shake their hands."

Event dress code for men is, at minimum, a button-up shirt and a tie. Women should wear cocktail dresses, according to organizers.

Stafford urges firefighters to wear their spiffed-up, buttoned-down Class A uniforms.

Besides music from the lively Outlaw Gypsy band - "They just get the crowd involved and hyped-up," Stafford said - the Boise Firefighters Pipes and Drums will play their bagpipes.

"Having an event that's fun and worthwhile ... it seems to be a no-brainer," Dodd said.

"It's a good weekend for firefighters in Savannah," Stafford said.