Salina joins St. Patrick’s Day festivities with first formal celebration


Salina residents, including K-State Salina students, will have the opportunity to participate in “traditional” St. Patrick’s Day close to home this year with Salina’s first St. Paddy’s Pub Crawl.

One of the demographics we were reaching was young adults,” said Melissa Hodges, executive director of Salina Downtown Inc., an advocacy group for businesses in downtown Salina. “We don’t get many of those people downtown. We were thinking about what we could do. They suggested, ‘Why don’t we do a pub crawl? If that’s what people want to do, why don’t we do it?'”

The event, organized by Salina Downtown Inc., will be March 15 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Event T-shirts and bingo cards can be picked up at the event at El Atoron Mexican Restaurant & Bar, located at 1949 N. Ninth St. Participants can fill out their bingo cards at different establishments during the day before turning it in at participants’ last stop for the chance to win a free “swag bag.”

Sunflower Taxi will provide free taxi rides home until 8:30 p.m. that evening. The event T-shirts include the phone number for the taxi company, which Hodges said she hopes will encourage people to utilize safe transportation.

“We do not want people driving while intoxicated,” Hodges said.

Salina Downtown Inc. has also provided bar owners with incentives to provide event participants with food.

“In an effort to encourage people to eat while drinking, we’ve subsidized bars to set out food and have free food available,” Hodges said. “We’re hoping not to make it where you are going from place to place getting tequila shots, and you are out of control by the third place.”

According to Hodges, about 150 people have registered for the event as of earlier this week. To ensure the safety of the 150-plus participants, Hodges said there has been coordination with the City of Salina and the Salina Police Department.

“We’ve created a waiver and contacted our insurance provider,” Hodges said. “We really did do our due diligence in trying to make this safe and make sure we are staying within the letter and the spirit of the law.”

The Salina police plan on having additional patrol cars in the downtown area during the event, Hodges said.

New idea
Tyler Lewis, K-State Salina student body president and senior in airport management, said the event has the potential to be fun, as well as a great addition to Salina’s “college town” atmosphere. The Salina area is home to K-State Salina, Kansas Wesleyan University, Brown Mackie College and Bethany College.

So far, however, he said he hadn’t heard of a lot of K-State Salina students planning to participate in the event.

“It’s still fairly new; not everyone knows about it,” Lewis said. “A lot of people are going to Manhattan because it’s established already.”

For K-State Salina students, Lewis had words of advice regarding St. Patrick’s and Fake Patty’s Day activities.

Always be safe,” Lewis said. “I always tell our students to be smart, be safe, be classy. Have fun, but most importantly, be safe.”

Well received
Hodges said while the planning group initially thought, “75 (people) would be great,” they are pleased with the size of the event so far.

“At any rate, it has really exceeded our expectation,” Hodges said.

According to Hodges, the community’s response has been almost entirely positive; only one business that was not interested in participating in the event.

The goal for Salina Downtown Inc. was not to make a profit, but to provide a safe and fun experience. However, Hodges said they are currently at a point where additional funds will be a profit, and they expect to maybe make “a few hundred dollars” that will go back to Downtown Salina, Inc.

The St. Paddy’s Pub Crawl is planned to become an annual event. For its first year, Hodges said she is feeling confident.

“I’m very hopeful that this is going to go okay,” Hodge said. “We will see.”

Registration is $15 in advance and $20 at the event. Government issued IDs are required for registration and will be checked at each establishment. Registration includes a T-shirt and food at the various venders.