An adult basketball fan could have chosen any number of downtown watering holes to watch Villanova throttle Michigan in the NCAA final on Monday night. For the Champions League soccer quarterfinals this week and next, The Press Room will be packed, and other locations may add Ronaldo and Messi to their midday menus. Then there’s the Masters, must-see TV for anybody who’s teed up a golf ball.
There is a bar where friends of Santa Barbara’s active running community can celebrate their sport — and support it at the same time — on Thursday, April 5. The Red Piano (519 State St.) does not have any TV screens, but it will have live music and lively runners serving as bartenders.
The occasion is a fundraiser for various running programs, including high school track-and-field teams that encompass hundreds of participants. Twenty percent of the sales at the bar and all of the tips from 5 to 8 p.m. will be donated to those causes.
It’s the latest in a series of events that have raised $13,000 for nonprofits since January, according to Colin Campbell and Jason Jones, the proprietors of The Red Piano. Recent beneficiaries were the Cancer Foundation and the Foodbank. The Goleta Valley South and Dos Pueblos Little Leagues will have a date in the future.
“It’s going to be a big, fun event,” said John Lofthus of the Santa Barbara Athletic Association, the oldest running club in town that is hosting Thursday’s gathering. He will be one of the bartenders. “I am well trained to pour beers,” he said. “I’ll have to rise to the occasion when it comes to cocktails.”
Behind the bar at 7 p.m. will be a pair of amazing ultradistance runners. Patty Bryant, 58, completed the Tahoe 200-mile endurance run last year in 89 hours, 51 minutes, and 17 seconds. Cassie Scallon, 35, finished second among 124 runners in the Ray Miller 50-miler on the Malibu coast. Her time was 7:38:58.
Brittni Hutton, training for the 2020 Olympic Trials in the women’s marathon, will be dispensing drinks at 7:30 p.m. along with aspiring decathlete Ben Kirkwood.
The Red Piano was opened in August 2016. Jones had bought a bar of the same name on the island of Saint Martin “one night at 5 a.m. when I was hammered on rum,” he said. He now eschews strong drinks — nonalcoholic drinks might be popular Thursday — and indulges in his passion for music, scheduling artists from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. every day.
Brandon Birdsong will be performing on guitar and vocals at 5 p.m. He is Hutton’s fiancé, having proposed to her when he finished the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2016, and music has kept him going since he was badly injured in a bicycle-truck collision last May.
House regular Jason Libs will be at the piano — yes, it’s red — until 8 p.m., when Tim Buie takes over the rest of the evening. Buie claims to hold the Guinness world record for the longest continuous piano-bar performance — 63 hours and 11 minutes — about a day short of Patty Bryant’s persistence on her feet.
B-BALL FINALISTS: UCSB seniors Gabe Vincent and Leland King II helped carry the Big West Conference to second place in the inaugural 3×3U National Championship, a three-on-three basketball tournament held in San Antonio in conjunction with the NCAA Final Four. Victor Joseph of Cal Poly and Chance Murray of UC Riverside complemented the roster with the two Gauchos. They defeated five other conferences, including the Big East, to reach the final, where the Big Ten team stood up for the majors and won, 21-13. The title was worth $50,000 to the winners, while the runners-up had to settle for $5,000, a grand for each win.
Westmont College reaped the riches of recognition after finishing second in the NAIA women’s basketball championship. All-America citations were accorded to senior forwards Lauren McCoy (first team) and Morgan Haskin (honorable mention). Joining McCoy on the all-tournament team was first-year guard Lauren Tsuneishi, while sophomore Joy Krupa took the Hustle Award. “If the NAIA had a sixth-man award, there is no doubt that Jae Ferrin would have won it,” Warrior coach Kirsten Moore said of her other senior.
GAUCHO HALL OF FAME: Orlando Johnson, who powered UCSB into two NCAA men’s basketball tournaments, is fast-breaking into the UCSB Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. The class of five new inductees also includes legendary volleyball coaches Kathy Gregory (38 years with the Gaucho women) and Ken Preston (30 years with the men), Olympic heptathlete Barbara Nwaba, and men’s water polo player John Anderson. The induction ceremony will take place on Saturday, April 28, at the Lobero Theatre, at 6 p.m. There will be a reception in the lobby beforehand. Tickets are $75 if purchased before April 14, $100 thereafter.