Just as the sun has finished rising, beer drinkers, clad in their dark green jerseys and orange baseball caps, fill the lobby of Fast Eddie’s as Irish folk music blasts from speakers of the electronic jukebox in the corner.
As some drinkers get refills on their green Bud Light, others grab a plate of green eggs and pancakes to go with their Bacon Bloody Mary. Greg Brunette, wearing a lime green wig and shamrock-shaped sunglasses, puts a megaphone up this lips and tells his fellow drinkers to “get ready to film the Harlem Shake.”
Brunette and the rest of the drinkers make up The Irish Drinking Team, who does their annual pub crawl around Spokane, the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day.
According to their website, the team was formed in 2004, by Brunette and a group of friends at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille.
In the past seven years, the team has grown to 300 members. The team has chapters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as members worldwide.
‘We have [over] 200 members locally,” Brunette said. “While we only have 10 to 15 members from 8 years ago who are still running around with us, it keeps growing. This was the first year I had to hire somebody to help me run [the event].”
For this year’s St. Patrick’s Day, the team began their pub crawl at Fast Eddie’s All Purpose Pub, at 6 a.m. Before leaving Fast Eddie’s the team filmed their own “Harlem Shake” video.
As the team’s second stop, Ugly Bettie’s Public House, Brunette bought six domestic pitchers for the team. As Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” played over Ugly Bettie’s electronic jukebox, Brunette then invited members, who were going on their first St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl with the team, to the bar and treated them to shots of Fireball.
“You guys are lucky,” Brunette said, raising his glass of Bud Light. “When I did this seven years ago, I had to do toughman shots.”
Aleisha Simpson and her friends decided to join the drinking team, after they had crossed paths with the team in 2012.
“We saw them and thought it might be fun [to join],” Simpson said. “We appreciate the camaraderie they have, and their bonding over beer.”
New members were not the only ones who received gifts from the team. Brunette had three veteran teammates come outside to take Tidal Wave shots. He presented each of the three with a shot of blue alcohol and a shot of water. Just as the three gulped down both shots, Brunette threw a cup of water in their face and shouted,” Tidal wave.”
Scott Jackson, who had joined the team six years ago, recently moved back to Spokane. Although he had been absent for many years, he decided to return and participate in this year’s pub crawl.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Jackson said. “Everyone is being dumb and having a [good time].”
Other highlights of the team’s pub crawl included several rounds of Cornhole at nYne Bar and Bistro, and a karaoke rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” at Carr’s Corner Lounge and Night Club.
Prior to the event, Brunette’s apparel company, Brunette Sportswear, created jerseys and shirts for team members. The group also hosted a beer pong tournament at Whiskey Dick’s Irish Pub and Grille, the night before the pub crawl.
Besides the St. Patrick’s Day event, the drinking team has hosted other pub crawls including the 2011 BoozeRun and the Beer Masters crawl.
In addition to hosting drinking events, the team also raises money for charity. According to Ileia Jacobson, who has been on the team for four years, the drinking team helped raise money for her friend who had breast cancer.
“She had to have a vasectomy and radiation treatment,” Jacobson said. “We were able to raise funds for her.”
Back in February, the team also helped with the Dog People Blood Drive, event where people and their canines donated blood.
The team is going to be participating in Freedom Fridays, which is a charity run by Operation Spokane Heroes that supports military men and women, and their families.
As for next year’s St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl, Brunette said he expects the team to expand to over 400 members.
List of bars visited by The Irish Drinking Team during their Pub Crawl
Fast Eddie’s All Purpose Pub
1 West Spokane Falls Blvd
Ugly Bettie’s Public House
211 N. Division St.
Red Lion Barbecue and Pub
126 N. Division St.
Saranac Public House
21 W. Main Ave.
522 W. Riverside Ave
Carr’s Corner Lounge and Night Club
230 S. Washington St.
The Blue Spark
15 S. Howard St.
Red Room Lounge
521 W. Sprague Ave
Lucky’s Irish Pub
408 W. Sprague Ave
9 N. Washington St.
nYne Bar and Bistro
232 W. Sprague Ave
World’s Largest Pub Crawl
According to the Guinness World Records’ website, the largest pub crawl, which involved 4,718 people who visited 10 pubs in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia, raised $15,000 for breast cancer research and prostate cancer research.
Tips for organizing a pub crawl
- Settle on a day and a time that will work around other people’s schedules. Saturday afternoons work particularly well since most people have that day off and bars will not be as packed during the afternoon. Some bars will usually have some sort of Happy Hour special.
- Pick a set of bars that close to each other. If people plan on drinking at several different bars, they will not have to worry about walking long distances if they are close to the next bar on the pub crawl.
- Once the group has picked the different bars, they should call the businesses in advance. This will prepare the bars for any large crowd and they might even reserve a spot for the group.
- Send out the invitations with a complete time and schedule. Although the group may spend more time at one bar than the others, groups that stick to a schedule will not have to worry about losing some of their group.
- Pick a theme or have everyone wear similar clothes. This is another way to keep the group together, and it distinguishes group members from other customers. The last thing the group needs is someone tagging along and causing a disturbance.
- If the group does find some stowaways, be cautious, but also be friendly. This could be a way to grow the pub crawl for next time.
- When the majority of the group leaves a bar, make sure everyone has paid their bill. There is nothing worse than to return to a business and have them say some of the group members left without paying their tabs.