The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 27, 2013

Black Wednesday big business for bars

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — Thanksgiving is a time of year filled with traditions — family rituals, football obsessions and shopping extravaganzas — are all part of the holiday festivities.  

But somewhere along the way a new tradition has begun to surface and it has been dubbed black Wednesday; a celebration of considerable proportions on Thanksgiving eve.

Per tradition, black Wednesday represents a time where local taverns and drinking establishments expect a large number of partygoers, numbers comparable to New Year’s Eve.

“The night before Thanksgiving definitely ranks right up there with New Year’s Eve,” Lyons Tap owner Steve Riojas said. “There’s just a lot of people home for the holiday, and a lot of people visiting family like to get together with friends to socialize and have some fun.”

Preparing for a night like black Wednesday isn’t easy though, and several local bar owners are ramping up their product and bringing in extra help to make it through the night.

Hook’s Pub owners James and Amy Hook don’t have anything special planned for the eve of Thanksgiving, but are planning on having extra security and bar help to keep the evening running smoothly.

“Hiring good help is the biggest key,” James said. “If you don’t have good help, you’re going to fail.”

Another big key for success, according to James, is making sure the bar is properly stocked.

“Stocking up is the biggest challenge. You have to predict what you need and throw a lot of money into it, hoping people show up,” James said.

If history is any indication, Hook’s Pub will have no shortage of guests taking part in the black Wednesday tradition.

Another highly successful drinking establishment on black Wednesday is Main Avenue Pub. Owner Rita Walton also hasn’t planned anything extra for the night, because she knows what to expect from the holiday travelers.

“We’ll have entertainment, but you really don’t need it because people will be out anyway,” Walton said. “It’s usually packed. I haven’t had a pre-Thanksgiving that wasn’t.”

But bar owners and party enthusiasts are not the only ones prepping for the excitement surrounding the day before Thanksgiving.

The Clinton Police Department also is planning for some extra enforcement today and for the entire holiday week.

To ensure safe travels for all, the police department will put additional officers on street patrol and traffic patrol over the next few days in preparation for the high volume of calls that come in today.

“Normally the day before Thanksgiving does generate more calls for service for us than most other days of the year,” Clinton Capt. Bill Greenwalt said. “And we know that we do have people home for the holidays that like to get out and see their friends they haven’t seen in awhile. We just do what we can to ensure everyone is safe.”

As the day arrives, police and bar owners alike do what they can to prepare, but expecting the unexpected is a rule everyone abides by.

“I usually don’t plan anything until the day before,” Walton said. “You know it’s going to be busy because everybody’s home, college kids come home and it’s like the first break they get from school. You just have to be ready for a busy night.”