By DAVID SKOLNICK
The city’s Independence Day Dash “feels like an open house for downtown,” said the owner of one of the 17 establishments participating in the third annual event.
“There are a lot of new faces,” said Jacob Harver, who owns the Lemon Grove Cafe on West Federal Street. “A lot of people come out here for the dash to see what we’re all about. There’s always a great time.”
The event is designed to “bring people downtown,” said Lyndsey Hughes, the city’s downtown director of special events, special projects and marketing.
Those who participated in Saturday’s dash paid $3 to register. All of the proceeds went to the Youngstown Arts and Entertainment District Association.
The first 300 who returned to the registration table on the city’s Central Square with a card showing they purchased a drink, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, at a minimum of 5 of the 17 locations received a dash shirt.
J.P. Rubenstahl of Boardman and a group of friends devised a plan to visit all of the bars as they did during the St. Paddy’s Downtown Dash in March.
The group had drinks at a few of the bars on West Federal Street, then went to those outside the main downtown area before they finished the dash with the remaining bars on West Federal.
While wearing a foam Statue of Liberty crown and drinking a Miller Lite at the Rosetta Stone on West Federal, Rubenstahl said he and his friends, all in their 20s, “are out here to support Youngstown and celebrate the birth of our nation.”
He and his friends said they prefer going out in downtown Youngstown rather than in the suburbs, where they live.
“It’s a completely different atmosphere in Youngstown than Boardman,” said David Tabak of Boardman, who was at his first downtown dash.
Kevin Kitt of Poland said they come downtown often.
“There are a cluster of bars here, so we have a lot of choices,” he said.
Ryan Joyce of Boardman added: “The dash is a good time. Besides, you can’t beat a free T-shirt.”
Julie and C.J. Hamilton of West Grove, Pa., raised in Mahoning County, returned for the dash after attending last year’s Independence Day event.
“It’s a great time,” Julie Hamilton said. “The downtown is alive.”
Her husband said he’s particularly impressed with all of the new restaurants and bars in the area.