Monday, November 3, 2008

Beer Garden Offsets Costs

Danielle Sills

Ohio University's annual Halloween celebration brings in visitors from around the state and country. But with all those extra people, the city of Athens has to pay for extra trash collection, security, and more. Last year, the city lost $60,000.

Bring the Money Back
In an effort to offset the costs of Halloween weekend, Mayor Paul Wiehl worked with the Clean and Safe Halloween Committee to create a beer garden on the corner of South Court and Union Streets. Volunteers sold beer from local bars in a fenced-off area. The city and the Halloween Committee will split the profits, and the tip money will be donated to Good Works Homeless Shelter.

Getting Ready to Grow the Garden
Beer Garden Coordinator Tom McGuire also coordinated a beer garden at Columbus' Comfest, where the proceeds from beer sales go to scholarships. He says Athens' beer garden worked in a similar manner, with profits offsetting the costs of the festival.

McGuire talks about how the beer garden came together

McGuire said the beer garden worked because it was safe and the operations went smoothly. It opened at 2 o'clock in the afternoon so beer garden workers could get used to everything before the crowd grew. The beer garden was a controlled area patrolled by deputy sheriffs, and volunteers checked IDs at the entrance.

Students See Benefits
At $3 a cup, the beer prices weren't cheap, but that didn't seem to stop OU students from buying. OU senior Ron York says the beer garden was better than a bar because he could enjoy the nice weather with his friends.

"I think it's a great idea. They've got security here so nobody can sneak in. And you get to drink on Court Street, so it's very nice," said York. Normally drinking alcohol out on the street uptown is illegal in Athens.

Mike Voorhees, another OU senior, agreed that the nice weather made the beer garden more attractive than drinking indoors. He just wishes it had been part of Halloween before this year.

"I think they should do it every year," Voorhees said, "I'm disappointed they haven't done it the past four years."

York explains why he thinks the beer garden is a great idea

The Total Profits
The mayor has not yet responded with the total profits from Saturday's beer garden. But the area was crowded with those enjoying the weather and the atmosphere from 2:00 P.M. until it closed at 1:00 A.M. The new event provided students and party goers with an alternative to the bars, and it gave the city a new way to get some money back.

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