Runnin O’ the Green helpsA pot of gold is rumored to lie at the end of each rainbow; at the end of this year’s 32nd annual Runnin O’ the Green many Jamestown businesses may have made a small fortune for themselves.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
A pot of gold is rumored to lie at the end of each rainbow; at the end of this year’s 32nd annual Runnin O’ the Green many Jamestown businesses may have made a small fortune for themselves.
The Irish-themed fun run for charity draws close to 3,000 people, including many from across the U.S. It also brings around $500,000 into Jamestown’s economy, according to the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce.
The daylong pub crawl is one of the busiest days for bars in Jamestown, but restaurants, taxis, hotels, gas stations and even retail shopping will see a spike in business this weekend.
Before patrons start the run, most eat, said Mike Vettel, manager of Perkins Family Restaurant & Bakery, and many come to his restaurant.
“It is our busiest day of the year, hands down,” Vettel said.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and the after-bar shift all see the same amount of customers, he said. Last year one group of men ate there during each shift, he said.
“I think we all (restaurants) certainly feel the effects,” Vettel said.
Like most businesses in Jamestown, Perkins will be “stocked up” on staff.
“My entire staff is working that day,” he said.
Those runners will also be relying on taxis to carry them to restaurants and other locations. Jamestown Taxi will be running with an extra car and a van, said Doug Fogderud, owner and operator.
“It’s usually sit-down restaurants and the reason for that is they can’t stand up,” Fogderud said, laughing.
While food fare is popular all day, cab rides tend to peak at 9 p.m. and last past closing time for Jamestown’s bars, he said.
Often during the run, a cab will pull up outside the bar late at night and the person who gets in is not the person who called but just one of many people looking for a safe ride home, Fogderud said.
The run ends at Jimmie’s Sports Bar & Grill, which opened this week in the building formerly home to The Brass Rail.
The closest hotel to the end of the Run is the Gladstone Inn & Suites, which had its 111 rooms booked for this weekend six months in advance, said Phyllis Thompson, general manager.
“I would say it’s one of the busiest times,” Thompson said.
The Gladstone rooms are filled a few times in the year because of its location close to the Civic Center, she said. But three hours after checkout Sunday, the hotel has to be ready for another full house, the Students Against Destructive Decisions conference, which runs through Tuesday at the Civic Center.
“Oh gosh, we beef up for it, you have to,” Thompson said of the extra staffing.
Other hotels in town have similar bookings as the Days Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Quality Inn & Suites all reported maximum capacity.
“We are full, and as far as I know everybody else in town is too,” said Penny Wain, front desk clerk at Holiday Inn Express.
The extra people in Jamestown will also translate to increased traffic at area retailers, said Joni Dalke, store manager at Kmart and member of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce Board of directors.
Relatives of runners who decide not to take part in the event and instead go shopping while their friends and relatives are going from bar to bar.
The runners themselves have their own retail impact. M & H Gas Station sees a big boost in sales, as it is located right along the route of the run, said Toni Krawczyk, store manager.
Krawczyk said there have been as many as 75 to 100 people pouring into the store at once to buy anything from water to cigarettes.
“We kind of look forward to it, it’s fun to watch all of the outfits coming through,” she said.
A popular spot for the outfitted masses to gather is the Knights of Columbus Hall, an early stop on the route with a large banquet room, said Dave Barnick, past grand knight and volunteer coordinator for the event.
“I’ll dare say it’s probably our biggest grossing sales day of the year, biggest by far,” Barnick said.
Unlike other bars on the route, 16 to 18 volunteers will serve the drinks and direct foot traffic, he said.
“We’re trying to make Larry’s (Knoblich) Runnin O’ the Green a success because he helps a lot of people,” Barnick said.
Knoblich, who founded the event more than three decades ago, donates the money raised to cancer patients in Jamestown and the Elks Camp Grassick near Dawson, N.D.
He expects about 1,500 runners, a record number, to pay the $10 fee and hopefully raise more than last year’s total of $15,600, while adding to Jamestown’s economy.
Runners can preregister Friday night at Shady’s Restaurant and Lounge inside the Gladstone. Participants are not required to consume alcohol during the run.
“I feel quite a bit of satisfaction from it,” Knoblich said. “I never thought it would grow to anything like this, the economic impact is wonderful.”
Local merchants seem to feel the same way.
“Anything that’ll pour half a million dollars into Jamestown in a weekend is good,” Dalke said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org