Dashers get a jump on St. Patty’s revelry
By D.A. WILKINSON
Downtown Youngstown’s rebirth as an entertainment destination got a boost from the second annual St. Paddy’s Downtown Dash.
The 5 p.m. Friday kickoff at the B&O Station began with a solid crowd and kept climbing.
Kevin Blair, owner of Rust Belt Brewery, was dressed in boots, a plaid kilt and a shirt that said “Rusted.”
He said he was trying to draw people to his business, and it was working.
People lined up to get beer and to give canned goods to the Gleaners Food Bank, which reduced the fee for the entry to 16 venues.
Jeff Bremmer of Youngstown said he expected the increase in attendance. “People love to have a good time,” he said.
Lyndsey A. Hughes, the city’s downtown director of special events and projects, was taking the donations and issuing wristbands at top speed.
“Last year, we had 600 participants. This year, it’s doubled,” she said.
Since 2002, the downtown has added more places to go and new restaurants. The Downtown Dash helped to show them off.
At the B&O, the Kravitz Delicatessen on Belmont Avenue was doing a steady business with its corned-beef sandwiches.
Benito Velasquez Jr. of Boardman, who said he works for the Mahoning County Clerk of Courts office, stood out because of his green-painted face and green garb. People making the rounds had to collect five plastic coins from leprechauns that could be turned in for a Dash shirt.
“I think it’s a good thing for the community and will help bring Youngstown back to life,” he said.
A huge hit was the Burke School of Irish Dance that performed in the center of the B&O. Rhonda Donoghue said the school has been operating for more than 40 years.
“This was the first time we’ve been here,” she said. The kids, she said, loved it.
On St. Patrick’s Day, these dancers will “go from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.”
Over at the Draft House, a bagpiper who had performed at the B&O got a tip from a woman who tucked a bill into the top of his kilt.
Mary Thompson of Boardman was having a drink with a friend. She said that many new businesses have moved into the city.
“Being in Youngstown is the best place to be,” she said.