Last updated on May 24, 2020
This article has been edited to correct an error.
The Lodi Bar Buddies safe ride program has received enough money from donations and events to purchase a brand new van to get people home safely from local bars or tailgating with the Packers or Brewers.
Started in October of 2016, the Lodi version of Bar Buddies offers low-cost and free rides for people who want to go out and have a good time, and arrive home safe. Thursday through Saturday a group of over 20 drivers offer $5 rides from location to location (e.g., one bar to another), and–always–free rides home. That service includes everywhere within a 10-mile radius of Main Street in Lodi. That includes Dane, Okee, Westpoint, and Harmony Grove.
For their first four years, Bar Buddies have relied on loans from local supporters to purchase old, cheap vehicles. The overwhelming support of local residents and impressive success of their fund-raising activities have allowed them to purchase a new 2019 Ford Transit 350 XLT passenger van with a passenger capacity of 13 (not including driver and shotgun). And this is a safe ride equipped for comfort.
Community and Beyond
While the primary role of Bar Buddies is to provide a safe ride home from the bar, they offer–and do–a lot more.
The Bar Buddies have built a strong relationship with both the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department and the Lodi Police Department (Chief Wayne Smith is an honorary board member). Their volunteer drivers are on call to return area drivers to their homes when they’ve been pulled over for OWI. Local law enforcement understand that getting drunk drivers home is just as important as getting them off the road.
Bar Buddies also understands our local sports fans. They offer set-cost packages to Miller Park, Lambeau Field, and other Wisconsin sporting venues. You can tailgate and party all you want, and still get home safe.
Funding for Lodi’s Bar Buddies comes entirely from local support. Donation cans can be found in a wide range of local businesses. Those donations help with day-to-day expenses. Major funding, however, comes from the events they host throughout the year. Those events are hosted by a wide selection of bars and restaurants throughout the Lodi Valley. Every bar wants their patrons to get home safe, and they understand the valuable role that Bar Buddies plays in making that happen.
The next fundraiser for Bar Buddies is their “garage sale” this coming weekend, May 28-30 at the Waddle Inn1Formerly the Northern Edge, City Limits, and (for the old folks) Sunset. At the corner of Hwy 113 and Cty J..
The sale will be open Thursday and Friday from 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
A Lodi native, Blaze attended the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay where he graduated with a degree in theatre technology & design. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States and the world–including a 6-year stint in China. He has been a teacher, a writer, a designer, and is the founder of the Redleaf Consulting Group.
|↑1||Formerly the Northern Edge, City Limits, and (for the old folks) Sunset. At the corner of Hwy 113 and Cty J.|