The groundhog says we can expect six more weeks of winter, but downtown Elkhart is switching to island time — at least for a night.
Pillars of Elkhart is hosting its sixth Trudge for Suds 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, in downtown Elkhart. This year’s theme? Tiki trudge.
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The group’s signature yearly event aims to engage Elkhart’s younger crowd and get people downtown during a time of year when foot traffic just isn’t so busy, Pillars chair Stephanie Patka said.
“We have a really great relationship with downtown businesses,” she said. “We want to try to build community to bring people downtown to see those assets we have here.”
There’s no cost to trudge — and with the heavy snow Elkhart has seen this month, trudge you will. The only cost is whatever food and drink participants purchase along the route, according to the event’s Facebook page.
This year’s trudge kicks off at Krāv, where participants will also register for the costume contest. The tiki theme is sure to draw Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts and flip flops for those brave enough.
“It’s our way of showcasing those local businesses and bringing people downtown to support them and have fun.”
“Part of the fun for trudge is the component where people get to dress up,” Patka said. “They get serious about costumes and we have had themes from classy to silly.”
Up for grabs for this year’s best-dressed contest is a gift card pack from all participating bars and restaurants, to be awarded to the two people with the best costumes, Trudge for Suds chair Jason Fink said.
This year’s Trudge will feature most of the restaurants downtown, Fink explained, from Iechyd Da to 523 Tap and Grill and New Paradigm Brewing Company. Other restaurants not along Main Street are also welcoming trudgers, including Crimaldi’s, Five Star Dive Bar and McCarthy’s On the Riverwalk, he said.
Going to each restaurant puts participants in the running for another gift card pack and will win them a neck full of leis, but restaurants also benefit from the Trudge.
“Businesses have told us it is a huge night, profit-wise,” Patka said. “In some cases, Trudge for Suds makes up for the net profit for the month of February. It’s our way of showcasing those local businesses and bringing people downtown to support them and have fun.”
At least 500 to 1,000 people are expected to attend this year’s trudge. You can learn more or RSVP on Facebook.