NEW BUFFALO — “The Bull is in Motion!”

That was the call that rang out as the fifth annual New Buffalo Winterfest The Running of the Bull Afternoon Pub Crawl began its journey through New Buffalo on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 25.

The festivities began just after noon at Dooley’s Lake House Pub with dozens of (mostly) costumed revelers gathering to socialize and enjoy liquid refreshments and snacks, before being led to their next destination by a costumed Bison that was given its four-legged power by former U.S. Naval Academy classmates Tim Burke and Greg Dougherty.

They led the way in the buffalo costume (with help from navigators including “penguin” Tom Smith).

Dougherty credited his wife, Cathi Croson, with coming up with the idea to do a winter-time pub crawl in New Buffalo after they moved there from Baltimore.

“She decided we need something to do once a year to get out and meet the neighbors,” he said.

Burke (who lives in Utah) said Greg told him he was getting a buffalo costume and wanted to lead a pub crawl in it.

His reaction was “I’m in” — with one caveat.

“The only thing is I have to be the front to see where I’m going. Otherwise I’ll get vertigo and fall over.”

“I’m more of a follower than a leader, right?” Dougherty quipped.

Burke said the inaugural Running of the Bull Pub Crawl started at the beach with participants (Greg Dougherty recalled there being seven people) walking over the Whittaker Street Bridge with the Stray Dog the first stop.

“It started off with just a few locals … and in each pub we’d pick up more people … It was like the Pied Piper,” Burke said.

Now the tradition is so strong that Dooley’s was jam-packed with pub crawlers right off the bat.

Smith (the pub crawl navigator dressed as a penguin)is a veteran of all five events (he dressed in Boston Bruin hockey clothing the first year with his wife supporting the Cubs).

“It’s fun. We’re getting more and more people (who) have a great time. We get all ages,” he said.

Meg Dougherty (Greg’s sister), dressed in psychedelic garb including an electric pink wig, made the trip from Philadelphia for her fourth Running of the Bull Pub Crawl, an event she noted “brings out the best in people.”

“We were in Philadelphia yesterday to get a flight, and all flights were canceled, so we did a road trip. We’re road warrens, we drove 12 hours!”

Among the many costumed characters making the Pub Crawl scene were Kelly Belin and Diana Starr, who replicated the renowned “American Gothic” painting complete with a portable photograph of the actual farmhouse in Eldon, Iowa, immortalized in Grant Wood’s work of art  (Starr took the photo). And of course they had a pitchfork.

“We’re from (Cedar Rapids) Iowa, so we wanted to do something uniquely Iowan,” Belin said.

As the time to assemble outside and begin the Pub Crawl journey approached, John Dooley stood up on a chair and asked the assembled multitude inside Dooley’s who was ready to see the bull run?

“What a great thing to be doing in January in New Buffalo!” he added.

Mark Gabryszewski dressed as a shark for his first Running of the Bull Pub Crawl.

“I think it’s awesome just to see all the people, have the spirit of New Buffalo in the dog days of winter, and just do something fun!”

The initial portion of this year’s Running of the Bull Pub Crawl took participants to the second stop — Bentwood Tavern at the Marina Grand.

Other locations on this year’s itinerary included: The New Buffalo Yacht Club; Brewster’s Italian Cafe; the Stray Dog Bar & Grill; and Casey’s.

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