By Katie Seminara
Downtown Youngstown and local venues urge residents and visitors to paint the town green Friday.
YOUNGSTOWN — Friday the 13th has an unlucky rap.
City and downtown venues hope to change that perception this week with lots of the luck of the Irish.
The city will host its first St. Paddy’s Downtown Dash starting at 5 p.m. on Friday at the B&O Station Banquet Hall, 530 Mahoning Ave.
“With it being the Friday before, we won’t be competing with the traditional St. Patrick’s Day events,” said Lyndsey Hughes, director of downtown events.
Last Fourth of July, then-director of downtown events Phil Kidd hosted a pub crawl that entertained about 500 people. Hughes is still getting her feet wet in the position she took over in December 2008 but anticipates even more registrants.
The St. Patrick’s Day dash is following the example of Kidd’s crawl, but Hughes made some revisions to ensure a smooth evening for participants and business owners, she said.
This time around, participants will receive a wrist band that will get them drink specials at 15 restaurants and bars downtown, said Hughes.
The first 200 people to register will get a free St. Paddy’s Day Dash shirt, she said.
Cost of the event is $7 or $5 with a donation of nonperishable food items to the Gleaners Food Bank. Hughes said $2 of the nondonors fee will also be donated to the food bank.
“Hopefully this will raise a lot of money and food for Gleaners,” she said.
The dash is being hosted by the city, Rust Belt Brewing Co. and Ohio Wine and Beverage.
The dash is meant to create more business and traffic downtown, not only to restaurants and bars, but for Youngstown State University and art centers, said Ken Blair, owner of Rust Belt Brewing Co.
“Plus, it’s a good time,” he added.
“St. Paddy’s Day is just traditionally a big party time,” Blair said.
Although, this is the first dash of 2009, residents can expect to see a few more throughout the year, possibly one as soon as Cinco de Mayo, he said.
B&O will be the starting point for the dash and the registration spot.
“I’d like to get more people downtown to the B&O, it’s such a beautiful building,” Blair said.
There is plenty of well-lit parking at the B&O, and buses will take people to four drop off areas during the dash, Hughes said.
“People won’t have to worry about driving,” she said.
The city hired CCS Transit, a local business located on the North Side, to make rounds during the event. There will be four buses that can hold 55 people making rounds, Hughes said.
The buses will start from the B&O at 6 p.m. and stop at University Pizza, Cafe Cimmento, The Royal Oaks and the Downtown Draught House throughout the night.
Bus transportation will end around midnight at the B&O, said Hughes.