‘People are rarin’ to go’: Port Huron Pub Crawl to make its anticipated return after two years away

This Saturday, March 12, isn’t just any old Saturday for the bar owners and bar staff of Port Huron. After two years away because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Official Port Huron Pub Crawl returns to the city. And while it’s hard to predict just how this year’s event will go after having been canceled the past two years, Jon Skrip, who owns Captain Skrip’s Office Bar & Grill with his wife Melissa, expects this year’s celebration to be an especially fun one, a joyful release for people after two years of shutdowns, social distancing, and getting sick.

Just remember, he says, that the Pub Crawl isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon.

“The last couple of years have been a little slow with the shutdowns and everything else. So I think this year’s going to be a helluva time. People are rarin’ to go and get out and see each other,” says Skrip. “I think it’s gonna be a real good time for all of us.”

The Official Port Huron Pub Crawl has 13 bars participating in this year’s event, which is organized by the Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. There is a $15 wristband available for purchase at participating bars up until 6 p.m. of the day of the event itself. Wristbands gain guests access to the Pub Crawl buses, which ferry revelers from one bar to the next. There’s a south route and a north route, with a central hub at Quay and Huron, connecting the two.

The Port Huron Pub Crawl runs from 1 to 7 p.m.

“This really is a boost to the local economy, all these people coming downtown, paying for hotels, food, drinks, souvenirs. We get people coming from all over southeastern Michigan for the pub crawl and we hope that they’ll come back again now that they’re more familiar with downtown,” says Katie Stepp, marketing manager for the Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We hope that they become return guests and long-term guests.”

Cutting loose

“I love the Pub Crawl. You can go out, wander around, support local businesses, and act a little younger than you are,” says Port Huron resident Heather Bearden (left).Port Huron resident Heather Bearden has been a regular attendee of the Pub Crawl for years now, she says. The event offers the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family, meet new people, and have a little fun in the sun. And she gets to do it all in the place that she loves, too.

“I always love supporting the community and St. Clair County in general, and especially downtown Port Huron and the waterways here,” Bearden says. “And I love the Pub Crawl. You can go out, wander around, support local businesses, and act a little younger than you are. I love dressing up and dresses are fun, but it’s fun to go out on the Pub Crawl and look ridiculous, too, wearing all the green and suspenders and everything.”

For those new to the Pub Crawl, Bearden has a few recommendations: Wear comfortable shoes; utilize social media like the Visitors Bureau’s Facebook page to stay up to date on happening throughout the day; and follow the guidelines so that everyone can have a good time. “Cut loose without acting out,” she says.

Bearden and her friends are planning on earning the fun that they’re about to have, registering for the YMCA of the Blue Water Area’s annual Leprechaun Loop, a series of 2K, 5K, and 10K fun runs. The festivities begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 12, and race packets can be picked up from the YMCA. Registration is available online.

“I’m going to run the 5K in the morning with some friends and then we’ll freshen up and go out,” Bearden says. “It’s such a nice daytime thing. I love that the transportation and buses are provided and no one’s drinking and driving. And you can be home at a reasonable hour and still let your freak flag fly for a little while.”

Work before play

Participating bars in this year’s Pub Crawl include Lynch's Irish Tavern, McCormick's Conner Street Pub, Captain Skrip's Office, Figaro's Restaurant & Lounge, Roche Bar, Tailgators Sports Bar, Outpost, Wings Etc. Grill & Pub, Freighters Eatery & Taproom, City Limits Tavern, Eagles, Sperry's 2nd Floor Dinnerhouse, and the Bar at CityFlats Hotel. Each bar will have their own entertainment and programming planned, so it might be worth checking out on social media ahead of time. Or just hop on the bus and let the day unfold as it does. It’s all part of the fun.

Of course, for all of the fun that’s about to be had, there’s a lot of work being put into it, too. Jon Skrip of Captain Skrip’s Office says that he’s been working closely with his bar staff and distributors to make sure that he has enough beer and liquor on hand to accommodate everyone. Irish liquor like Jameson Irish Whiskey and keg beer are especially popular, he says.

“We’ll sell more keg beer than usual that weekend. It’s like a glorious Red Solo Cup party, without the Red Solo Cups,” Skrip says, laughing.

Maj. Melissa Skrip of the U.S. Army and co-owner of Captain Skrip’s Office.As excited as he is for this Saturday, and especially after two years of the pandemic canceling past events, it’s a bittersweet Pub Crawl for Skrip this year. His wife Melissa is the namesake of the bar, once Captain in the U.S. Army who was recently promoted to Major. Jon says that they won’t be changing the name to Major Skrip’s Office, though, and it’ll remain Captain Skrip’s Office.

She is, however, going to miss the big event. Current events have once again affected this year’s Pub Crawl.

Maj. Melissa Skrip was recently deployed to Poland, a result of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

“I miss her and I’ll miss doing this without my sidekick. She’s my partner; we’re in cahoots on this bar,” Jon says. “We’ll miss her this weekend. But we’re lucky we have such a great staff and team here.”

Visit the Blue Water Area Convention & Visitors Bureau online for a full breakdown of the day’s events.