Park City Santa Pub Crawl benefits nonprofit, Main Street businesses
Rachel Sharwell was sitting in a bar off Main Street in 2007 when she saw 10 people dressed up as Santa Clause walk in and grab some drinks. The Park City Santa Pub Crawl, which she now organizes with Hilary Reiter every year, has since grown to about 1,200 participants.
As those numbers increase, business on Main Street and less fortunate families in the area both benefit. The event, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., also includes a toy drive. All donations go to The Christian Center of Park City and are given to children during the holiday season, Sharwell said.
The idea for the drive came out of a desire to redirect the energy from the pub crawl’s costume contest into a good cause. When Downstairs, a club and bar on Main Street, was added to the pub crawl list, Sharwell and Reiter adopted the bar’s tradition of a toy drive. The drive has been taking place since 2014.
“We thought maybe some philanthropy out of the debauchery would be nice,” Sharwell said.
The immaculate costumes continue even though the contest has ceased, but just as Reiter and Sharwell predicted, participants go all out with donations.
“They fill the entire stage of Downstairs with bags of toys,” Sharwell said. “It’s hundreds of toys now.”
The Christian Center plans to stock a “shop” with all the toys in its renovated building. Parents will be able to select gifts for their children rather than being handed a bag of pre-selected toys. Any toys left over will be given to families in Native American reservations in the Four Corners area.
The event also gives a boost to local businesses. All of the participants together couldn’t fit in one bar, Sharwell said, so they spread out and hop between bars.
Marco Peretti, manager of No Name Saloon, said the event fills bars up and down the street as participants — and several others on Main Street that night — get caught in the swarm of people.
“It makes our bar busier, and when we get busier, people seem to want to come in,” he said.
Plus, people discover new bars that they might return to later.
“It’s a great way for people to become exposed to businesses that they haven’t been frequenting in the past,” Reiter said.
Local hotels benefit as well when people come in from out of town, and Sharwell said that number is increasing each year. People come once and want to return every year, like a group of friends from Oregon who come each year lit up like snowmen.
But for the most part, though, the event is still for the locals, Reiter said.
“I always consider it one of the last weekends that locals own the town,” she said. “After that, tourists take over. It’s a way to visit Main Street, paint the town and have fun before we become outsiders in our own home.”
The event is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Butcher’s Chop House, then continue with DJs and dancing at The Cabin, Downstairs, No Name Saloon, The Spur Bar & Grill and Flanagan’s. It is set to finish at OP Rockwell with a performance from the local band Rage Against the Supremes beginning at 11 p.m. If people are interested in donating toys prior to the event, they can drop them off at Downstairs, No Name Saloon, Flanagan’s or The Christian Center.
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