Norwich bars offering an early Irish warm-up

Norwich - The real St. Patrick's Day is still a week away, but what's wrong with a little practice?

Three downtown Norwich bars will borrow a theme from their Boston area counterparts to host Norwich's first "St. Practice Day Bar Crawl" Sunday. The six-hour event invites people to sample signature Irish-themed drinks at the participating locations, along with traditional Irish food and festivities.

St. Practice Day will start at noon at Chacer's Bar and Grill, move onto Billy Wilson's Ageing Still at 2 p.m. and then to the Harp & Dragon Irish pub from 4 to 6 p.m.

Each participating establishment will offer their own specials, including corned beef sandwiches and meals, drinks with names like Picklebacks, Pot O' Gold and the Shamrocker.

Paul Seifert, owner of Billy Wilson's, said downtown Norwich is perfect for a pub crawl event, since the three facilities are within easy walking distance of one another, and there's plenty of parking on a Sunday afternoon in downtown Norwich.

That's an unfortunate reality that gave rise to such promotions. In January, the same three bars turned a traditionally business dead Sunday afternoon into a festival by hosting the Benedict Arnold pub crawl. About 400 people visited the three businesses, winning tri-corner hats and trying the Patriot vs. Traitor themed drinks.

"With us, we're trying to incorporate different times of year when we can get new people into downtown Norwich," Seifert said. "We're trying to get people who have never been here before. When we did the Benedict Arnold Day, we had 60 to 65 people (at Billy Wilson's), and I maybe recognized a third of them. People said, 'I didn't even know you guys were up here.'"

Scott Capano, whose family owns the Harp & Dragon, said the alcohol distributors have supported the event, printing up bright green posters and signs promoting St. Practice Day.

"Come practice getting your Irish on, so you'll be ready for the real thing!" one poster said.

Capano said Harp & Dragon will offer its traditional $8 all-you-can-eat corned beef and cabbage Sunday. The restaurant offers that special on the 17th of every month and will bring it out again Friday through Sunday next weekend, the real St. Patrick's Day weekend.

The Norwich Community Development Corp. is helping with publicity for Sunday's St. Practice Day.

So far, about 85 people have posted on the event's Facebook page that they plan to attend.

c.bessette@theday.com

St Practice Day Bar Crawl

Sunday in downtown Norwich:
• Noon-2 p.m.: Chacer's Bar & Grill, 78 Franklin St.
• 2 -4 p.m.: Billy Wilson's Ageing Still, 57 Broadway.
• 4 -6 p.m.: Harp & Dragon Irish Pub, 130 Main St.

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