After claiming the title of best tourist destination in the world, Charleston officials now hope to top another list:
The Drunkest City in the Country.
Charleston ranked an impressive 4th place in the Daily Beast’s latest list of “The 25 Drunkest Cities in America.” Amazingly, the Holy City beat out New Orleans, where they name streets after drinks; Las Vegas, where gamblers drink free; and St. Louis, where they make Budweiser.
That says something. But it’s not enough.
“It’s great that we beat places like Buffalo and Cleveland, where, frankly, there isn’t anything to do but drink,” says M. Bibe, the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s executive vice president for Public Consumption. “Honestly, we want better for our city. We just want to be at the top of every list, we don’t care what it is.”
The Visitors Bureau says the city needs to come up with more excuses for locals to stand around in public parks all weekend and drink themselves silly. The Wine + Food festival, Spoleto and the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition can only carry so much of the weight.
Bibe says we need more events like the Boone Hall Oyster Roast. But it doesn’t take much. Basically anything on Park Circle – say, a yard sale – is going to lead to binge drinking. But there are yuppies all over the suburbs just looking for an excuse to get blitzed in public spaces. And Bibe says we must exploit that behavior.
That is, if we want to beat Milwaukee (No. 3), where all they do is make beer, and then drink it.
Right now, plans call for a Collards Cookoff in January. Bibe says if they can do a full night of drinking for macaroni and cheese, why not a whole weekend for a Lowcountry staple? In addition, the Shrimp and Grits Festival is going to be expanded to a month-long event, and Folly Beach will not only reinstate drinking on the beach, it will set up Coke machines that dispense Coors Light at every beach access point.
The CVB hopes to exploit minor holidays for even more “festivals.” They will save all the unused green beer from St. Patrick’s Day for an “Arbor on the Harbor” in June. They already have sponsorship for “Coronas for Columbus” in October, and “Veterans Viva La Vodka” in November. On Grandparents Day, every person staying in a downtown hotel will get a free Old Fashioned delivered to their room – if they promise to stagger through the Market afterwards.
That ought to do it, Bibe says. And if not, every weekend left open on the calendar will be filled with another food truck rodeo. Because people somehow feel the need to drink liberally when standing around in a parking lot eating food out of U-Hauls.
The Charleston Police Department – which the CVB blames for our poor showing on the Daily Beast list, since they quit allowing Art Walk patrons to carry mini-kegs from one shop to another – says they will lighten up on DUI checkpoints, since it’s for a good cause.
If things go right, Charleston could end up with a twofer out of this – it could also wind up atop the Gastonomical Society’s list for Most Nauseous Cities in the Nation.
What else, Charleston?