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First Eat. Drink. & Be Marion is a success

By Cassie Buschm, Marion Times | July 16th, 2015 |

Uptown Marion hosted a hugely successful fundraiser on Thursday, July 9, in downtown Marion. The inaugural “Eat. Drink. & Be Marion.” was a food and pub crawl. This first-time event did much better than expected.

Only two hundred tickets were originally supposed to be sold, but because of such increased interest, over 250 people ended up participating. Tickets were sold at $25 for individuals and $45 per couple.

The night began on the roof of the Philip’s Center at 5:30 p.m., with appetizers and refreshments from El Perico, Michello’s Pizzeria, MJ’s Restaurant and Zio Johno’s.

Participants were also able to get signed in and receive their coupon books and complimentary glasses for the crawl.

The food and pub crawl officially lasted until 9 p.m. The coupon book included a map marking the Crawl Stops, as well as discounts for the participating locally owned restaurants, bars and shops. These included $1 drink samples, food specials and shopping sales from establishments such as Alley Gallery, Country Kitchen, Joy, Lillians of Marion, Louie’s Scoreboard, The Chocolate Shop, Running Wild, Tomaso’s Pizzeria, Zio Johno’s Spaghetti House, Zoey’s Pizza and many more. Many of the retail stores had extended shopping hours for the night as well.

At 9 p.m., participants were encouraged to stop by the Giving Tree Theater to conclude the crawl.

Here they enjoyed coffee and desserts provided by Kettel House and Wit’s End. There was also a raffle drawing at 9:30 p.m for prizes donated by various Uptown Marion businesses.

Besides raising funds for Uptown Marion, the event benefited participants and local businesses alike. Some of the Uptown businesses even offered special attractions to appeal to customers, like The Chocolate Shop. Shoppers were invited to stop in and belly dance with Pam to receive a free truffle.

“We hope that hosting events, such as EAT. DRINK. & BE MARION, increases exposure for our district businesses that will ultimately lead to repeat customers. There were several attendees I heard from who said they had never been into one or more of the crawl stops and were so glad they stopped in, noting that they would definitely be back! In addition, we wanted to show how fun our district is and foreshadow what more is to come,” Ashley Zierath, Director, Uptown Marion – A Main Street Iowa District, said. “Lastly, as a non-profit organization, this community fundraiser was very important to us. The community will see the money raised go back into the district in a variety of ways, all with the common goal of continued revitalization, growth, and preservation of Uptown Marion’s historic character. We want to continue to enhance Uptown Marion and make it the most desirable place for patrons to enjoy and businesses to thrive in.”

Due to this year’s success, organizers plan to expand the event next year to include even more participants and businesses.

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