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Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Drummer Kurt Roberts leads a parade of vintage autos across the newly rebuilt Spring Street bridge on Friday.

Ribbon cutting has fans

End of 18-month bridge project is like end of Prohibition for pub

John Holbert passes out We Want Beer signs at the reopening ceremony for the Spring Street bridge on Friday.

– Most ribbon cuttings don’t draw crowds. They attract a few dignitaries, the local press, and on rare occasions an innocent bystander who accidentally wandered into the proceedings.

This one had flappers.

The long-awaited opening Friday of the Spring Street Bridge drew a couple dozen onlookers, including several dressed in Prohibition-era outfits and holding signs saying “WE WANT BEER.”

The connection between a bridge over a railroad track and the outlawing of alcohol is the Deer Park Irish Pub, which sits at the foot of the bridge and which has suffered greatly during the closure of the Spring Street Bridge, owner Tony Henry said.

“It’s been a long, rough road,” he said, wearing a 1920s-era pinstripe suit. “I could have had two children in the 18 months it took to get this done.”

The pub turned out for the ribbon cutting, then offered live music, coney dogs and a special, pre-Prohibition lager called Batch 19.

Sister Elise Kriss, president of the University of Saint Francis, said the new bridge makes a nice approach to the campus and will be a welcome addition.

The $2.3 million project reconstructed and widened Spring Street from Sprunger Avenue to Steup Avenue to provide turn lanes, added a traffic signal at Spring and Leesburg, and installed sidewalks on each side of the street.

Once the ribbon was cut, the procession was led across the bridge by Fire Engine No. 7 and six antique cars.