How the Rich & Bennett St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl grew to more than 20,000 people

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Even if you’ve never taken part in the Rich and Bennett St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl, you’ve probably seen the green shirts.

Last year, more than 20,000 green T-shirt-wearing partygoers descended on uptown for the crawl. Organizers Rich Saner and Jeff Bennett hope the 16th edition of the event this Saturday (March 12) will be even bigger.

“I want Charlotte to be a destination city, for St. Patrick’s Day but for a lot of reasons,” Bennett said. “You hear about Savannah, you hear about Chicago dyeing the river green and Boston and New York and Dublin. I want us to be in that same breath. I think we deserve it.”

Rich and Bennett joined The Good News Is podcast this week to talk about the world’s largest pub crawl. (Listen on SoundcloudiTunes or — new this week — Stitcher.)

Seventy-three people participated the first year in 2001, and Rich and Bennett had to work to find seven suitable bars in uptown and South End. Now the event features more than 30 bars.

“We never thought it would turn into what it has today,” Bennett said. “It was originally our first attempt at a welcome to Charlotte party. … We had been on a pub crawl before, we liked the concept and we thought we’d do it in Charlotte … with 70 of our best friends.”

Why has this event worked so well in Charlotte?

“The short answer is, Charlotte is bleepin’ awesome,” Rich said. “It’s the people of Charlotte and the people that come to Charlotte.”

The pub crawl has become something of a rite of passage for Charlotteans — “Sign your lease, go to Target, go on the bar crawl,” Rich said — and the two love seeing people connecting — in more ways than one — on the crawl.

“We really want people to have a shared, common experience,” Bennett said.

Dive even deeper into the event and its history — and find out what the guys do during the crawl — by listening to this week’s The Good News Is podcast.

T-shirts cost $20 ($25 online) and can be bought at any of this week’s prepay events, or on a first-come, first-serve basis the day of the crawl. The Pub Crawl Party Lot — across from 7th Street Public Market — is open with food trucks, bars and a DJ from noon-3 p.m. and the crawl officially continues until 10 p.m.

“If everyone’s safe and everyone has a good time, then next year will take care of itself,” Bennett said.

The Good News Is — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast with a similar mission to what we do here at C5: To get you CharlotteSmart, fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s hosted by me (Corey Inscoe) and Sarah Crosland.

As always, you can find our episodes on SoundcloudiTunes and now Stitcher. You can follow us on Twitter @TheGoodNewsCLT, on Instagram @TheGoodNewsCLT, on Facebook and you can shoot us an email to thegoodnewsisclt@gmail.com.

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