As the election results came in Tuesday night, the Tecate cans piled up in Page-turners Lounge.
The beers were free to anyone who stopped in wearing an “I Voted Today” sticker. The new bar at 5004 Dodge St., which normally lacks a television, brought in a flat screen especially for the big night, as well as a jazz trio and free tacos.
Jim Hoke was among those who stopped by the bar wearing his sticker to claim his free Tecate. Tuesday’s election was the first he had ever watched in a bar. Usually, he said, he watches among like-minded friends at someone’s home.
“I thought it was an excellent idea,” he said of the free election booze. “It gets people talking about it. Bring it out in the open. That’s a good thing.”
A lot of bars (and other businesses throughout Omaha) had the same idea Tuesday. House of Loom, 1012 S. 10th St., The Hive, 1951 St. Mary’s Ave., and WineStyles, 1006 S. 74th Plaza, all offered free drinks to patrons who had voted in the election. The Brass Monkey, 5611 S. 36th St., offered free shots to voters. Other businesses offered discounts on ice cream, cookies, meals, vintage clothing, shipping and more, in many cases regardless of whether the customer was sporting a sticker.
The promotions spread — and seemed to multiply — on Facebook and Twitter as the day went on.
When I met some friends at Pageturners early in the evening, their table was already covered with Tecate cans. By the end of the night, owner Phil Schaffart said, they had given away 176 cans of Tecate.
“There was no real special reason outside of the fact that we always do $2 Tecates,” Schaffart said.
Later in the evening, the jazz band stopped playing, and Schaffart rigged up the TV so it played over the bar’s sound system. The crowd leaned left, he said, and excitement ran high as the race was called.
“It was a lot of high-fives and woo-hoos,” he said.
But the beer giveaway and the ensuing party wasn’t about celebrating a Democratic win so much as it was about encouraging people to vote, Schaffart said. He also wanted Pageturners to be a place for patrons to watch the results among friends.
Jake Gardner, owner of The Hive, said he offered free drinks to patrons who had voted for the same reason.
Gardner waited in line for 40 minutes to cast his vote Tuesday, and he figured many others had waited just as long or longer.
He thought that was worth a beer.
“I just wanted to party with the people who went out and voted today,” he said.
And he partied with people from both sides of the political spectrum. I arrived at The Hive right as the race was called. Outside, a woman cheered as she talked excitedly on her cell phone. Indoors, a few others glumly watched as Fox News called the race.
Gardner said the bar, which features a different genre of live music each night — reggae, blues, jazz, etc. — draws different crowds from night to night. So it made sense that the people stopping by to watch the election results held diverse political beliefs.
Gardner appreciated that about his election night crowd.
“I’m a Marine. I believe in everything that goes into free democracy,” he said.
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