If you’re feeling the holiday spirit and want to get holly jolly while helping a great cause, the 12 Bars of Charity competition is for you. The seventh annual event is slated for 2-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at bars and restaurants in and around downtown St. Louis.

“It is a friendly charity competition with the ultimate goal of getting the most people signed up,” explains Bobby Conn, president of One80 Entertainment, the company that organizes the event. “Attendees go to the website, pick the charity they want to support, and they receive a color-coordinated sweatshirt (the color matches the charity you select), drink specials at all participating bars, free shuttle rides, and a $10 donation goes back to charity. It is a great opportunity to give back during the holidays in a fun interactive way.”

The event started in Clayton with around 2,000 people attending, but it quickly outgrew the city and had to be moved downtown four years ago.

“Since moving to downtown, we have seen the event grow about 30 percent each year,” he says.

In 2017, attendance was over 7,500 people and over $90,000 was raised. Attendance this year is expected to exceed 10,000, which should raise over $120,000. Since its inception, the event has raised over $500,000 for local charities.

“The event has been so successful in St. Louis that we decided to take it nationwide,” Conn says. “The 12 Bars Of Charity is now in 17 cities across the country and is expected to raise more than $400,000 in 2018.”

There are eight participating charities per city, with a total of 138 charities nationwide in 2018.

“We limit the amount of participating charities because we want the charity partners involved to get as much exposure and raise as much money as possible,” Conn says. “Any more than eight would dilute the attention each one receives.”

Last year’s first place team was Stray Rescue of St. Louis boasting over 1,500 participants, with St. Jude Children’s Hospital coming in at a close second with over 1,400 participants.

“These two have gone back and forth over the past few years on taking first place, and they are battling again this year,” Conn says.

Other participating charities include World Pediatric Project, Friends of Kids With Cancer, Autism Speaks St. Louis, Gene Slay’s Girls & Boys Club of Saint Louis, Animal Protective Association of Missouri and Make-A-Wish Missouri.

Participating venues include Drunken Fish, Wheelhouse Downtown, Start Bar, Molly’s Soulard, 1860’s, Duke’s and many more. Click here for a full list.

“This is the ideal charity event to get involved with because anyone can do it,” Conn says. “You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars at a stuffy gala dinner, you don’t have to run 5 miles, and you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to play in a golf tourney. It’s an opportunity to get your friends and family together to support local charities, bars and restaurants and have a blast doing it.”

Tickets for 12 Bars of Charity are $30. For more information, visit 12barsofcharity.com.

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