From sombreros to starships to derby hats, those looking for unique opportunities for fun in Wheeling have a wealth of options to choose from in the first weekend of May … or they can do it all!
May 5 this year happens to also be the day of this year’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, but a trip to Louisville is not necessary to enjoy the festivity of Derby Day. As part of an annual tradition, Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack is holding a Horses and Hounds 2018-themed derby party on Saturday from 12:30-7:30 p.m. Activities for the day include a hat and bow tie contest, food stations, free giveaways and much more. This is a ticketed event with packages starting at $30 per person.
Meanwhile, every day is a celebration of Mexican food at Tacoholix on Market Street, but this Cinco de Mayo will feature a special new event. In collaboration with Bike Wheeling, a grassroots group focused on encouraging healthy living and community, the bar and grill will host the first-ever Tour de Taco from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday.
Consisting of two rides, one long and one short, the Tour de Taco will feature a bike ride starting at Heritage Port and ending at Tacoholix. All riders will then have their choice of any two Tacoholix tacos and two drinks, either craft beer or soft drinks as refreshments.
“This is just a cool event to celebrate the holiday and give back to the community,” Tacoholix General Manager David Comack said.
“We like opportunities to bring people together and support local businesses,” Jim Adams of Bike Wheeling said. “This event marks Bike Wheeling’s one-year anniversary, and we want people to know.”
Each rider also will receive one raffle ticket for a basket of swag with prizes donated by Bike Wheeling, area businesses, local bike shops and Tacoholix. Raffle tickets will be available at the event to riders and nonriders alike for $5 each.
Funds raised at the Tour de Taco will go directly into Bike Wheeling’s community improvement projects. These include a free bike helmet giveaway for local kids and bike racks in public places to encourage bikes as transportation.
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As of April 25, there were only 10 spots left of 50 openings for this year’s Tour de Taco. All are welcome to cheer the riders on and join in the festivities afterward.
The neighborhood hotspot, the 19th Hole, decided not to choose between the Derby or Cinco de Mayo for May 5 festivities this year. Instead, there will be a Derby Party starting at 4 p.m. complete with a best derby hat contest. Patrons are then welcome to trade their mint juleps for margaritas as the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration begins with its own contests and specials.
Those wishing to celebrate their knowledge of a Galaxy Far, Far Away may want to consider going to Later Alligator from 7-10 p.m. Friday, May 4, (May “the fourth” be with you!) for a special evening of Star Wars-themed activities. These will include a Star Wars team trivia contest and costume contest, both promising pop culture prestige for the truly devoted fans.
Later Alligator partner Mitch Haddad said the idea was proposed to him by two friends, and he embraced it because he thrives on opportunities to offer people a unique experience.
“If someone brings me a cool idea, I like to try it and see if it sticks,” Haddad said. “We like to have fun here. If it is new and interesting and especially if it encourages the arts, I will make it happen.”
Of course, Haddad said it does not hurt that he is also a lifetime Star Wars fan.
• Born and raised in the Ohio Valley, Daniel Dorsch brings a rich background of research and writing to Weelunk. He studied at West Virginia University and Duquesne University and has worked as a historian, a journalist, and a marketing communucations expert. Daniel’s personal philosophy is that every person and every place has a story to tell, and he makes it his mission as a wordsmith to help tell them. Daniel lives in Weirton with his wife and son.