LAPORTE | The city's first Maple City Pub Crawl Saturday evening did what it was designed to accomplish. It brought people in and showed them what the downtown has to offer.
"This is the first time I've been to several of the places. I just don't get a chance to get downtown as much as I used to," said Rick Barnes, a longtime LaPorte resident.
"It's a great time and I'm glad I got to experience it and I'll come back," he said.
Some of the nine bars and restaurants participating in the crawl were heavy in atmospheres of laughter and chit-chat from customers enjoying craft brews and wine, and in many cases food.
Twisted K-8s, a brewhouse opened four months ago at 610 Monroe St., by Michael and Kate Boshaw, was especially busy.
Michael said he had been home brewing for about six-years when he decided to capitalize on his beverage making skills and the skyrocketing national popularity of craft beers.
He said the secret behind the quality of craft brews is the use of more natural sweeteners like hops and barley than commercial beers, which have a higher percentage of sugars.
"They tend to add extra sugars whether it's rice or corn sugars, because those are cheaper," said Michael.
"LaPorte has really accepted us, he said. "Things are going well."
The sidewalks were also kept busy during the 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. crawl with groups of people walking to each of the participating establishments.
Jim Abbott, a 1971 graduate of LaPorte High School, decided to take part while here visiting friends after a four-hour drive from Michigan.
He said it was nice to see people walking in the downtown, something that happened regularly when the central business district was thriving during his youth.
"What strikes me is the number of people out enjoying the downtown area which is really kind of neat," said Abbott, who feels events like the pub crawl could reignite more activity.
"Now maybe it's going to light up," said Abbott.
Dick's Bar on Lincolnway also featured sampling of wines offered by Easley Winery, of Indianapolis, which distributes to several different states.
"The popularity has picked up considerable in just the time I've been working at the winery," said employee Dana Curtis.
Thaddeus Cutler, the city's downtown coordinator, was pleased with the turnout.
"It's been fantastic. Every location I've been to has been unbelievable. The response is a little bit better than what I had hoped," said Cutler.
The pub crawl was not the huge all-out party associated with commercial beers and loud music during the annual Dyngus Day celebration in LaPorte.
More of a middle age, upscale crowd seemed to make up a majority of the pub crawl participants, but there were plenty of 20-somethings in some of the more trendy establishments.
"This is more laid back. "It's a great time and I'm glad I got to experience it and I'll come back," said Barnes.