Before the clock strikes noon on Thursday, many students will round out the school year with a beer for breakfast before heading Downtown for Binghamton’s annual Bar Crawl.
Binghamton University students fill State Street and the surrounding area every year at the end of finals week for the crawl, where they can go from bar to bar to celebrate the end of the semester with cold drinks.
“Bar Crawl is a great way to finish a long year both in regards to studying and, of course, socializing,” said Larry Shea, the owner of Tom & Marty’s. “Everybody gets together and they have one final blowout.”
Shea owns one of the several bars along State Street participating in Bar Crawl, a tradition for over 25 years. He said that it is their second biggest day in terms of revenue, right after Parade Day. When Shea was a student at BU, he said it would just be around 100 students going from bar to bar, drinking a beer and taking a shot.
Then in the late ’90s, BU’s senior class council decided to take advantage of it, and started selling mugs to students that they could use to get the cheap deals at the bars. The bar owners consented as it brought more customers. The tradition still lives on today, and Off-Campus College Council (OC3) has taken over the selling of the mugs.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, mugs will be sold in the University Union for $3 each. They will be available up until Thursday, and OC3 hopes to raise $1,000 for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, a local charity that services a network of over 30 food pantries in Broome County.
Starting at noon on Thursday, Bar Crawl will go until 1 a.m. and will have all-day specials for everyone carrying a mug. Fourteen bars, cafés and grills are participating, located mainly on State Street and Main Street, such as Tom & Marty’s, JT’s Tavern and The Colonial. State Street will be closed to traffic, but no drinks are allowed outside of the bars.
For those carrying mugs, each of the 14 bars participating will offer $2 draft beers and $3.50 well liquor drinks until 2 p.m. From 2-3:30 p.m. draft beers will be $3, and after that both drafts and well drinks will be full price. In addition, some of the bars will have their own specials throughout the day.
Dillingers on State Street is not participating with the mugs, but they will still have their own drink specials. Alicia Peters, a bartender there, said that they will have $2 shots and $1.50 draft beers all day, and lots of staff for the crowds.
“We’re jammed, all three floors and the patio,” Peters said. “We’re pretty much stocked up regardless, but we have 33 people working that day. We prepare far in advance and make sure we have everything you can imagine.”
Sam Catalano, a junior double-majoring in business administration and cinema, went to Bar Crawl his freshman year and plans to go again. Instead of just staying on State Street, he said he would rather actually go around to each bar.
“I don’t want to be that kid who goes to Tom & Marty’s and The Rat and says they did Bar Crawl,” Catalano said. “I want to go to places. I love The Belmar; I like to do the bar crawl rather than just hang out and refill my glass.”
Shea said he expects around 5,000 students to do the crawl, with 2,000 customers coming in and out of his bar throughout the day. Despite these large numbers, Uncle Tony’s owner Bryan Whiting said that there are never any issues with overcrowding.
“At the end of the night there’s a couple thousand students between Hawley Street and Court Street, and you know what? There’s never a problem,” Whiting said. “Students are very well behaved, and they keep it very calm, organized and without incident.”
The full list of bars participating with the mugs are The Belmar Pub, Cafe Oasis, Callahan’s Sportsman Club, The Colonial, Fitzie’s Pub, JT’s Tavern, Merlin’s, The Rathskeller, Sake-Tumi, The Shop, Tom & Marty’s, Uncle Tony’s, Venue and Zona & Co. Grille.