By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — The popular Penguin Pub Crawl is returning this year, but not as part of the downtown Christmas Stroll, which was last Saturday.
Instead, the crawl will happen Friday night, offering revelers another night out during the holiday season.
For its first three years, the crawl was held on the night of the stroll. Last year it was held on the night before the stroll.
“Participating restaurants wanted two nights of business and loved it,” said organizer Dennis “Bucky” Tardif. “This year we moved it to a week after the stroll, which still gives businesses two nights.”
The crawl will be Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., followed by an after-party at Maria’s Family Restaurant on Essex Street. The party is open to those who registered for the pub crawl and will include food, music and raffles.
Last year’s event sold out, and so did this year’s event in which 41 teams of six people each will be dropping into some or all of the 15 participating downtown restaurants, taverns and lounges. Each team paid an entry fee that includes the after-party, raffles and hooded sweatshirts for all 246 participants.
To be eligible for the raffles, participants must visit at least four of the 15 businesses and buy anything from food to soft drinks to other beverages and have their participant sheet checked off.
“The goal is to have a safe and enjoyable night out and to raise money for Ozzie’s Kids, which we raise money for every year,” organizer Pam Nolin said about the program founded 25 years ago by now retired Haverhill police officer Osmond “Ozzie” Hardy, which provides gifts for needy children at Christmas. “Last year we gave him over $1,000 and our goal this year is $2,000.’’
Each participating business donated to the event as well, Nolin said.
Ozzie’s Kids brings gifts each year to hundreds of children who otherwise would have nothing under the tree. Hardy credits the community for having sustained the program over the years through donations of gifts and money from schools, businesses, individuals, families and various organizations, including the Penguin Pub Crawl.
Businesses participating in this year’s pub crawl are: Archie’s Little River Ale House, Blue Finn Grille, Chit Chat Lounge, Essex Street Grille, Wangs Table, Keon’s 105 Bistro, Butch’s Uptown, Tomas, Maria’s Restaurant, Barking Dog Ale House, Smith’s Tavern, The Lasting Room, The Peddlers Daughter, The Tap, and the Coach’s Room Bar and Grill.