(Updated at 9:20 a.m.) It’s been more than a year since the last large, organized bar crawl in Arlington, and the former seasonal staple of the Orange Line corridor shows no sign of returning soon.
The last notable crawl to fill bars in the Clarendon area was the March 2018 Shamrock Crawl. The St. Patrick’s Day-themed pub crawl was one of three — including the Halloween Crawl and a Fourth of July-themed All American Bar Crawl — to bring thousands of revelers to the watering holes along Wilson and Clarendon boulevards.
Though many local residents were not big fans of the bar crawls, which sometimes led to participants vomiting in front yards or running naked down the street, the events did generate local buzz and were reliable draws for Courthouse and Clarendon-area bars.
The free-wheeling nature of the bar crawls was curtailed a bit when the Arlington County Board approved new regulations targeted the events in 2014. While the crawls continued for more than 3 years after that, Scott Parker, a partner in some of the bars that participated in the events, tells ARLnow that the costs imposed by the regulations likely led to them petering out.
“My sense is that the regulations and costs made it impossible for it to be as profitable in Arlington as it is in D.C. for the operators,” Parker said. “I think the demand was still there, but the regulations made it too hard for them to turn a profit.”
“Kind of hurts because Arlington bars already have a competitive disadvantage to D.C. bars since we have to close an hour earlier, and must live by many other restrictions that they don’t have to in D.C.,” Parker added.
Project DC Events, the primary organizer of the big Arlington bar crawls, is still holding similar crawls in D.C. and Baltimore — even using video from Clarendon to promote its upcoming All American Bar Crawl in the District. The company did not respond to requests for comment.
Arlington County spokeswoman Susan Kalish says the county has chalked up the lack of bar crawls to declining popularity and is not reconsidering any of its policies, which call for event organizers to cover the cost of an added police presence and trash pickup.
“Arlington County supports more than 250 special events a year,” Kalish told ARLnow. “We have seen a decline in pub crawls, however there is always an ebb and flow in what’s popular.”
“Last year, we did have a pub crawl organizer complain about the cost for holding their event,” she noted, adding that “this does not appear to be a systemic complaint regarding our special events and there are no plans at the time to reconsider the policy.”
“Public safety remains our top priority during all special events and resources are deployed to ensure the safety of participants, neighborhood residents and businesses,” Kalish said.
The Trolley Pub, the mobile biking platform hopping from bar to bar across Arlington, has undergone a rebranding to Pedal Saloon.
According to John Alligood, general manager at Pedal Saloon Arlington, the change came after former partners were bought out by the current leadership.
Passengers on the Pedal Saloon meet at 3101 Wilson Blvd and board a pedal-powered party vehicle.
While Virginia law prohibits consuming alcohol onboard the vehicle, guests will pedal to bars across Arlington like Spirit of 76 or Don Tito, where there are special deals and discounts. Tickets for the Pedal Saloon are $35 for individual tickets or $420 for groups of 14.
Photo via Pedal Saloon
Clarendon has been known for its nights-and-weekends bar scene and drinking culture, and there is perhaps no more pure an example of the drinking culture than the bar crawls that come to the neighborhood a few times a year.
There’s the Halloween crawl, the “All American” crawl and — this past weekend — the St. Patrick’s Day-themed Shamrock Crawl, which returned to Clarendon after a one-year hiatus. Like Dan Zak before me, I went to check it out.
The final list of bars included Bar Bao, Pamplona, Whitlow’s, Mister Days, Hunan One, Oz and Clarendon Grill. An earlier list featured Courthaus Social, but it was later removed.
Starting at 1 p.m. my friend and I were among the first people to show up at Bar Bao, where you had to register. We were given free plastic mugs and a map.
Nothing was ready when we first got there. No bartender, no music. Just my friend and I and two other guys awkwardly sitting around. After 5 to 10 minutes of standing around waiting for something to happen, we got up, left and headed to Courthaus Social, not knowing that it was no longer on the list.
We killed an hour at Courthaus Social and decided to finally start heading back. On the way over, we passed Oz and my friend insisted on checking it out.
Inside, I saw a $4 “shamrock shooter” was being offered. The bartender told me it was a watermelon flavored liquor of sorts, and it was so good I had another, clumsily spilling some on my green shirt. But the revelry was rather subdued — as far as we can tell, no other bar crawlers were there.
Fast forward to 3 p.m. and we decided to head back to Bar Bao. On the way over we found a grocery cart that I pushed my friend in for 10 seconds. She then jumped out and we went into Bar Bao. Finally things are poppin’. A DJ is performing, the bar was open for those inside and outside on the patio. People were actually there. The weather was between 40 and 50 degrees, but it was sunny so it wasn’t too bad to stand outside while having a beer.
While at Bar Bao I also met a guy who said he was friends with the man who was famously tased by police while wearing a Pikachu onesie, about one year ago. The man is still in prison after fighting with both police and the bouncers of A-Town Bar & Grill, his friend said, adding that they were wrongly discriminated against when they were kicked out of A-Town.
After Bar Bao, it was time to cross the courtyard to Pamplona, which serves Spanish cuisine but today was also offering $7 Irish car bomb shots.
Before our final stop at Mister Days, my friend and I were tempted by yet another grocery cart. Except this time, when I pushed it, the cart fell over, with my friend rolling out (she was fine). A police officer then came out of nowhere and initially told us to return the cart, seemingly less interested in my friend’s tumble. I offered to take the cart back to Trader Joe’s, but the officer had seen enough shenanigans.
“Just leave,” he said, which we promptly did.
Four and a half hours of drinking later we couldn’t make it to the four remaining bars. But I like to think we still had a great, boozy adventure. And for the record, neither us nor anyone we saw vomited in any front yards.
Free Lyft rides will be available to those looking for a safe ride home on St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.
The promotion is being offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, a local nonprofit, and will run from Saturday, March 17 at 4 p.m. through March 18 at 4 a.m..
“During this twelve-hour period, area residents age 21 and older celebrating with alcohol may download Lyft to their phones, then enter a SoberRide code in the app’s ‘Promo’ section to receive their no cost (up to $15) safe transportation home,” the organization said in a press release. “WRAP’s St. Patrick’s Day SoberRide promo code will be posted at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 on www.SoberRide.com.”
Last year, 460 people used WRAP’s SoberRide Lyft services on St. Patrick’s Day in the D.C. area.
“Almost three-fourths (69%) of all U.S. traffic deaths occurring during the six evening hours following St. Patrick’s Day [in 2016] involved alcohol-impaired drivers,” noted WRAP President Kurt Gregory Erickson.
Eligibility Changes Proposed for Cemetery — “With Arlington National Cemetery set to run out of space in the coming years, restrictions on who can be buried there need to be considered, officials said Thursday.” [WTOP, Army Times]
Emergency Metro Repairs Next Weekend — Emergency repairs will mean reduced service on Metro’s Silver Line and some changes to Blue Line service next weekend, during St. Patrick’s Day and peak cherry blossom season. [Fox 5]
ACPD Conducts DUI Education Event — To discourage driving under the influence, Arlington County Police and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program conducted an anti-drunk driving event during Saturday’s Shamrock Crawl. Among other activities, attendees were invited to try to shoot basketballs into trash bins while wearing impaired vision goggles. [WTOP, Twitter]
Video Project Keeps Iota’s Memory Alive — A video series called The Iota Chair is “an oral history project on Facebook with musicians who frequented Iota Club & Cafe,” which closed last year. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Local Journalist Pens History Book — “Arlington resident Michael Doyle recounts the life and times of a 19th century morality crusader who campaigned against an infamous ‘free-love’ commune, in a new book entitled ‘The Ministers’ War: John W. Mears, the Oneida Community and the Crusade for Public Morality.'” [Amazon]
DHS Official Charged With Beating Wife in Arlington — A “senior career official with the Department of Homeland Security who… handles a ‘high volume’ of classified information in his role as an intelligence briefer,” served jail time after a 2016 incident in Arlington in which he was charged with assaulting his wife, breaking two ribs and causing bruising around her neck. [Washington Post]
Anti-DUI Event at Shamrock Crawl Tomorrow — The Arlington County Police Department will hold a St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-DUI event dubbed “Don’t Press Your Luck” in Clarendon tomorrow (Saturday). The event will coincide with the planned Shamrock Crawl bar crawl. [Arlington County]
More on Wakefield’s Championship Run — But for a great defensive play by Varina, the Wakefield High School boys basketball team might have emerged victorious from yesterday’s state championship game in Richmond. [Washington Post]
Arlington to Co-Star in Travel Video — Arlington County has received grant funding that will help pay for its share of a new Virginia tourism video that will also feature Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Loudoun County, Richmond and Staunton. [Arlington County]
Long Branch Creek Profiled — “A mostly residential section of south Arlington, Long Branch Creek is a diverse community where almost 75 percent of residents are renters. In addition, there are condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes and one single-family home.” [Washington Post]
Fire Station History to Be Recognized — Last month Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz established a “Fire Station No. 8 History and Legacy (FS8HL) Working Group,” to record and celebrate the history of the first Arlington fire station staffed by African Americans. [Arlington County]
Kanninen Gets Democratic School Board Nod — “An Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus? Fuggedaboutit. Incumbent School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen was the lone candidate to file to run in the caucus, which had been slated for several days in May. With no opposition bubbling up, the caucus was nixed.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Rex Block
The Shamrock Crawl is returning to Clarendon after a one-year hiatus, with at least nine confirmed bars participating in the bar-hopping bonanza.
Project DC Events, the crawl’s organizer, is now selling tickets for their March 10 bar crawl, with ticket prices as low as $15 listed on the website. The tickets come with a refillable shamrock mug and cover-free access to Mister days, Pamplona, Whitlow’s on Wilson, Courthaus Social, among other bars. Additional party favors, a raffle, event pictures, and food deals are included in the ticket price.
The company also organizes a sister event in Washington’s Dupont Circle.
The costumed event takes participants to numerous Clarendon bars from 1-9 p.m. on Saturday, November 4. Advance tickets are $15 and the price increases to $30 the day of the event.
Participants get “a souvenir haunted mug, access to Clarendon’s best bars, exclusive drink & food specials, free pictures of the event and a raffle entry to win great prizes,” according to the website.
Nearly a dozen Clarendon establishments will be stops on the crawl route, including Clarendon Grill, Hunan One, Whitlow’s and Pamplona.
Police to Hold Anti-DUI Event During Bar Crawl — The All American Bar Crawl will be taking place in Clarendon from 1-9 p.m. Saturday, and the Arlington County Police Department is planning some complementary programming. ACPD and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program are holding a “free interactive anti-drunk driving event” from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on N. Highland Street, in the heart of Clarendon. [Arlington County]
Local ‘Big Brother’ Houseguest Getting Attention — Matthew Clines, a 33-year-old renovation consultant and fitness buff from Arlington, is being mentioned as a frontrunner on the new season of CBS’ Big Brother. “Many ladies swooned over” him, US Weekly writes. Clines has suggested he “would rather have America love him… than actually win the game and the $500,000.” [Us Weekly, Reality TV World]
Woman Wanted for Hit and Run Near Columbia Pike — Arlington County Police are looking for a woman who struck a pedestrian on the 3400 block of 7th Street S., in the Arlington Heights neighborhood, Wednesday night. The suspect, described as a “white female in her mid-twenties to early thirties, approximately 5’6″ tall… wearing a white sweater,” fled the scene after the collision, which sent the victim to a local trauma center with significant but non-life-threatening injuries. [Arlington County]
Photo courtesy Bradley Teague
The All American Bar Crawl is set to take place Saturday, July 1 from 1-9 p.m. in Clarendon. It offers revelers access to local bars, food and drink specials, party favors, a raffle and a “signature patriotic mug.”
Among the participating restaurants listed on the event’s website are Mister Days, Bracket Room, Whitlow’s, Clarendon Grill, Oz and Whitlow’s Rooftop.
Early bird online registration is $15.
“The All American Bar Crawl celebrates America’s birthday a few days early!” says the website. “Rock your red, white and blue and get ready for a day full of Star Spangled shenanigans and bar-hopping in Clarendon with thousands of your closest friends.”
In June 2014 a naked man led police on a chase through Clarendon during that year’s All American Bar Crawl. A month later the Arlington County Board passed new regulations that required crawl organizers to pay for a stepped-up police presence at the events. Both attendance and arrests dropped at subsequent bar crawls.