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Tue, Jan. 28

Whiskey Row Street Dance back to a midnight closing time

PRESCOTT – After a 10 p.m. closing time spelled failure for last year’s July 4 street dance on Whiskey Row, the Prescott City Council has allowed the promoter to extend the time until midnight for this year’s July 2 dance.

Steve Gottlieb, the event’s promoter through Eagle Management LLC, told council members that the 2015 street dance had attracted just 387 people. He attributed the low attendance to the council’s decision last year to require the dance to close by 10 p.m.

“We had a number of comments from people (asking), ‘who goes to a party on the 4th of July that ends at 10?’” Gottlieb told the council this week, adding that people arriving downtown after the evening performance of the World’s Oldest Rodeo were disappointed that the street dance was closing down.

The dance, which normally attracts several thousand people, ended up losing about $12,000 last year, Gottlieb said.

Without a later end time, Gottlieb said he could not take the risk of conducting the dance again this year. “If we don’t have midnight, we’re not going to have the street dance at all,” he said.

Bar owners along Whiskey Row have registered their concerns about the late-night closure, however. Dave Michelson of The Palace Restaurant and Saloon repeated some of those issues this week, maintaining that a midnight closure for the street dance is unfair for the bar owners who pay taxes and fees to stay in business.

The late closure also causes issues for bar owners and employees who must deal with the sometimes-intoxicated people leaving the street dance after midnight and looking to enter the Whiskey Row bars, Michelson said. “We don’t know how they’re monitoring people and their drinking,” Michelson said of the street dance operators. “After midnight, we have to deal with all of those people.”

Years ago, Michelson said, the street dance ended at 8 p.m. – a time that he said worked well for the area businesses. Although last year’s 10 p.m. closure was also too late, he said, a midnight closure is unacceptable.

Gottlieb maintained that the capacity of the Whiskey Row bars cannot handle the influx of people into the downtown area, and the street dance provides additional capacity. The dance also provides two police officers to the downtown scene, he added, and raises money for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona.

A city memo noted that the street dance has had an 11 p.m. or midnight closure time since 2004 (with the exception of last year). The original purpose of the street dance was to “provide spectators of the parade and boot race a way to continue festivities while supporting downtown business,” the memo stated.

The council voted 4-3 to approve the special-event liquor license with the midnight closure time. Mayor Harry Oberg, and council members Jim Lamerson, Steve Blair, and Jean Wilcox voted for the motion, while council members Steve Sischka, Billie Orr, and Greg Lazzell voted against it.

The dance, which takes place on the 100 block of Montezuma Street (Whiskey Row), is scheduled to take place from 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, July 2.

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