By KATIE SEMINARA
More than 300 pub crawlers signed up for the 15-bar dash.
YOUNGSTOWN — The magic number was 15.
As in 15 bars in downtown Youngstown that participants in the first Downtown Dash had to visit before the end of the event.
“Every bar is full, and the shuttle is rollin’,” said Phil Kidd, who could only describe the turnout as “unbelievable.”
Kidd, the downtown events director, set up what’s hoped to be an annual Downtown Dash and Fireworks Show, in cooperation with the Youngstown Business Incubator and M7 Technologies.
“These dollars are going to stay in downtown,” said Kidd of the proceeds from the event that will benefit the nonprofit organization Youngstown CityScape.
The night of pub crawling, music and fireworks kicked off at 5 p.m. Thursday, and people were still lining up to register after 7 p.m.
“We were hoping for 150 people, and we are over 300,” said Kidd’s assistant, Morgan Tondo, who was staffing the table where participants picked up their sticker, drink vouchers and maps. The line continued to fill in behind the table.
Tramane Pixley even came down in his pajamas to make sure he registered before it was too late.
“I usually just go to Barley’s on Monday nights, but we are going to hit up every bar,” said Pixley, 23, of Youngstown, who assured that he was going home to change out of his PJs before kicking off his crawl.
Federal Street was clustered with groups of Valley residents deciding which route they would take on their pubbing adventure, while others were already on their first drink.
Participants could identify fellow crawlers by the big yellow sticker that read, “2008 Downtown Dash Central Square July 3.”
“It’s nice to come down here and have something actually going on. We’ve lived here our whole lives, and there’s eight or nine bars we haven’t been to,” said Zach McPhee, 27, of Canfield, who was looking forward to checking out some new places.
Many crawlers seemed to share the same sentiment as McPhee, noting that it would be fun to visit new places in downtown that they never had seen before.
The establishments were glad to see those new faces.
“A lot of people participating have never been here, and I’ve heard a lot of people say they are coming back,” said Marcus Hollenbank, who was working as a bartender at Imbibe during the dash.
“If I wasn’t working, I’d definitely be participating,” Hollenbank said.
The music of The Zou and Jones for Revival kicked off after 9 p.m., and a fireworks show shot off from the Chevrolet Centre parking lot.
One Downtown Dasher, Ryan Ligotti, 29, of Boardman, just returned to the area from Phoenix and said he was glad to come back to a new social event like the dash.
“It’s home,” Ligotti said, “all part of the smalltown character.”