ELYRIA — You can have fun without alcohol. That’s what the Lorain County Safe Community Coalition and the approximately 400 guests that attended this year’s Zero-Proof Mix-Off say.
In its 11th year, the Zero-Proof Mix-Off was formed to advocate safe alternatives to drinking alcohol during the holiday season.
Sixteen local businesses, clubs and organizations gathered in Lorain County Community College’s College Center on Thursday night to give the public a taste of their best concoctions — non-alcoholic drinks that can be served during holiday parties. Attendees were given recipe books with all the featured drinks so they could recreate their favorites.
“We just wanted to share the message of driving sober… and we just wanted to share the message in a fun and festive way,” said Katie Bevan, health educator at the Lorain County General Health District, the organization that sponsored the event.
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And the event was fun for many drink samplers, including several local celebrity judges like Chronicle-Telegram Managing Editor Julie Wallace and the mixologists who created the drinks.
“I think this is an awesome event,” said Janine Trottier, youth leader of The Next Step.
The Next Step, a youth group of Lutheran churches, formed its fruit-flavored drink, “Believe It or Not!” as superstorm Sandy passed through Lorain County, knocking out power in some areas for a few days.
Despite creating the drink with flashlights in hand, Trottier’s group took home the “Best Student Drink” award.
Various awards were given out during the night for drinks with the best taste, name or presentation. Taking home “Best Overall” drink was “Cherry Bomb,” which was mixed up by the Lorain County Metro Parks.
The drink — a mixture of grenadine, citrus soda and Maraschino cherries — tasted much like the popular drink of the same name, only sans alcohol. The recipe was created by Brian Holmes, captain of the ranger department, said Mike Goodrich, his co-captain.
“I love the turnout,” Goodrich said. “I love the fact that people are willing to try stuff without alcohol.”
Selina Gaddis, manager of Student Life at Lorain County Community College, echoed Goodrich’s sentiments.
“The holidays can be fun without alcohol,” she said.
Gaddis’ group, the Lorain County Community College Student Senate, took home the “People’s Choice” award with the most attendees voting for its “Pumpkin Pie Milkshake” drink. The students worked together to perfect the recipe, Gaddis said.
Although the drink’s taste was important, presentation also was key, said the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office, which spent some time creating a Candy Land-like display, including edible houses, for its “Ice Cream Scream” drink, based off of a space on the Candy Land game board.
“We kind of went Candy Land crazy,” said Jennifer Goodall.
Their hard work paid off — it earned the “Best Presentation” award.
While many said the event was a fun way for the community to get together, the night was also a serious reminder of the implications driving while intoxicated can have.
Tom Tomasheski, a guest judge, spoke to the crowd about losing his wife and son to a drunken driver in June 2011.
On that day, a driver that police said had consumed more than twice the legal limit of alcohol struck the Tomasheskis’ vehicle, killing Tom’s wife, Tammy, and 11-year-old son, Tommy. Tom and his daughter, Danielle, were critically injured in the crash and spent months in the hospital recovering.
“Every day is a day thinking about what it would be like with my wife and son,” Tomasheski said.
Tomasheski, who worked at the Lorain County Jail until the accident, said he was asked by the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office to speak at the event, and he hoped that those in attendance would listen to his message not to drink and drive.
According to the Safe Community Coalition, every day almost 30 people in the U.S. die in motor vehicle crashes that involved an alcohol-impaired driver — nearly one death every 48 minutes. In 2011, 41 percent of roadway deaths in Lorain County involved impaired driving.
Rich Resendez, a Vermilion police officer, said he’s been volunteering at the Zero-Proof Mix-Off for 11 years — since the event started with just six tables. Resendez said he supports the message the event gives.
“I’ve been a policeman for 33 years,” he said. “Unfortunately, during that time, I had to deliver the message that no one wants to hear — the accident message.”
Resendez said he hopes the Zero-Proof Mix-Off will give people alternatives to drinking alcohol this Christmas, something Tomasheski said he knows his wife would support, if she were still alive.
He said Tammy Tomasheski would likely criticize him about his over-analytical drink testing — he had tested the flavor of each drink, especially favoring the “Razberry Mocktail” for the incorporation of the lime into the drink. He said his son, Tommy, probably would have liked the Candy Land display.
“My son would be in his glory with the prosecutor’s table,” he said, laughing. “He would pull up a chair with me and start munching Skittles around the display.”
See Wednesday’s Accent section for the winning drink recipes. Recipe booklets can also be picked up at local Discount Drug Marts.
- People’s Choice: “Pumpkin Pie Milkshake,” mixed by the Lorain County Community College Student Senate
- Best Taste: “Hawaiian Delight,” mixed by the Murray Ridge Center Early Intervention Program
- Best Presentation: “Ice Cream Scream,” mixed by the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office
- Best Name: “Zoe’s No Hangover Razberry Mocktail,” mixed by the Oberlin Underground Railroad Center
- Best Student Drink: “Believe It or Not!” mixed by The Next Step
- Best Overall: “Cherry Bomb,” mixed by the Lorain County Metro Parks
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.