St. Patrick’s Day Bar Stroll 33
March 20, 2011
St. Patrick’s Day Bar Stroll 33
This year marks the 33rd straight year that the St. Patrick’s Day Bar Stroll has wound its way through the streets and bars of Old Town Key West. The event which attracts hundreds of revelers who make a donation to charity and in exchange get a t-shirt and a card that is shown for a free drink at the official “stops”- various bars that stretch the length of Duval Street and beyond. Starting at noon and going all day on the Saturday closest to St. Patricks Day, the stroll has evolved from its original “Suds Run” race format to the more relaxed and crowded event that it is today.
It is a Key West institution and is still organized by my friend Rick Dostal, who has for the past few years asked me to tag along and capture the fun and mayhem with my camera. I rarely feature guest commentary on this blog, but found Rick’s description of the history of the stroll found on his website so interesting, that I thought I would just include it here. You can read it and find a lot more info on the stroll on the website linked below. Thanks Rick for another successful and fun year!
“I started the St. Patrick’s Day Bar None Suds Run in 1979 with the help of Curly McGinn. Curly owned the Sandcastle Bar (now Michael’s restaurant on Margaret St.). At his request the run ended at his bar and every year that it did, Curly, myself and the Strollers drank the place dry!
Key West artist and muralist Steve Heuel drew the shirt for me using the bar as his easel (see 1st annual t-shirt). For various and sundry reasons certain people were barred from one bar or the other so I got permission from the bar owners that a guy could "get a pass" for the run, hence the name.
It was an absolutely crazy race and everyone who actually ran in it blasted into a bar, chugged a beer, and then "purged" on the fly to the next joint. After a few years of guys and girls running and puking through an increasingly congested Old Town the event had to change to today's format, a "stroll". The last time it was a race it was won by Key West's own Buco (Pantellis) who is the reigning champion. He still bugs me every year to bring back the run! Maybe next year, B! The first year we started at the Full Moon Saloon, the legendary and definitive bar from the golden age of Key West. Gone now but it stood roughly where the Southernmost Hotel is (Tiki Bar!).
Stop two was the Holt brothers' Simonton St. Station, now the Monkey Bar at Simonton and Olivia streets. Then the Blue Boar, which is now just a distant memory; the Lowell C, now Mango's. Then we were off to The Bull and Whistle, Maynard's (now Ricks Bar), Sloppy Joe's, Billy's Bar (now Red Fish Blue Fish), the Chart Room at the Pier House (later we used the Cistern Bar, a very cool little underground bar on their property right beside Duval St. built in - what else!?! - a cistern!), Dills Pickle (now a parking lot on the corner of Greene and Simonton streets). Then off to the Half Shell Raw Bar, and finally finishing up at the Sandcastle!
I remember Dave Dill served Becks Dark but he added green dye, and put a little gerkin in the glass. It was not really what a runner wanted just then. The only bar that was in the first year and has been in every year since is The Bull and Whistle. Rick's came in as soon as they opened (2nd Annual) and have been a stop ever since. The Schooner Wharf Bar has also been in since they opened (as Cafe Diamant!), and is a fine place to unwind at the end of all that strollin'.
We all thank the great bars and their staff that welcome the strollers each year and we welcome some new bars, some brand new to the "Stroll". “
–Rick Dostal, Bar Stroll Founder & Event Organizer
St. Patrick's Day Bar Stroll Site