Arlington County to adopt new pub crawl policy

ARLINGTON (WUSA9) -- Some places are just a good fit. Al Chadsey, operations manager at SoBe Bar and Bistro in Arlington insists that the Clarendon neighborhood where his bar does business is one of those places: a good fit for pub crawl.

"If you're going to do a bar crawl anywhere, Clarendon is one of the best communities in the metropolitan area to do it because everything is so compact, so close to each other, all in the general vicinity. It's a pedestrian city, you've got metro station right over here, you've got Red Top cab right over here," said Chadsey.

Based on this years St. Patrick's Day pub crawl, the 3,000 or 4,000 people who attended, agreed with Chadsey, as they hopped from one participating bar to another, enjoying the drink specials offered in a pub crawl.

Pub crawls in Arlington have become increasingly popular, drawing thousands of people for a single day, multi-bar drinking event. Promoters organize the event, coordinating with a handful of bars who all offer all day specials and draw bar-goers who spend the entire day hopping from bar to bar, drinking alcohol.

"99.999 percent of the people are fine but occasionally you get the person that creates some trouble," said Jay Fisette, Chairman of the Arlington County Board.

That percentage might be small but it's enough for Arlington County to rethink how they manage the crawls.

The County currently has certain policies in place for special events - everything from 5K runs to restaurant tastings.

"There are a lot of events, they add vibrancy and they're great, we love them. But they add a burden. We've got to close streets, we've got to monitor streets, we've got to ensure public safety, and that burden should fall to the people organizing these events. That's what this special events policy will do," explained Fisette.

That burden would include paying for the added public safety and clean up effort. It's a bill that might fall to pub crawl promoters and/or the businesses themselves.

"Businesses definitely should not because we already offer them so cheap stuff already," said Naeem Mohd, owner of Mad Rose Tavern, speaking about the specials his bar and others offer during the pub crawls.

"They do cost money and the money is allocated, it's in the budget. The way I feel about it," said Chadsey, "Is it's going to be spent on something. Thank God they spend it on police protection."

"We had to put an extra $40,000 to $50,000 in the budget to anticipate pub crawls in the next fiscal year. That's overtime for public safety," explained Fisette.

In an online survey, Arlington County asked taxpayers how pub crawls should be managed. Questions included, "How long should pub crawls last?" 44 percent of those responding answered "Less than 6 hours," another 18 percent said, "Less than 9 hours," and 37 percent responded "Other."

Another question, who should foot the bill - the county, businesses or event organizers? 57 percent answered "event organizers" -- the promoters.

"We all have to work together and come up with some kind of agreement so it's not burden for anybody," said Mohd.

Arlington County is scheduled to consider the new pub crawl policy Saturday. Fisette expected the board to adopt the measure.


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