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John Lamb, Published April 26 2010

Downtown bars stay open during blackout

Loss of power wasn’t enough to close down a couple of downtown Fargo bars this weekend.

An early Sunday morning blackout in Fargo cut off power to a large section of the town’s north side.

About 7,465 customers were affected when the power cut out just before 1 a.m., said Bonnie Lund of Xcel Energy. The area affected extended from Main Avenue to 19th Avenue North and from the Red River to 10th Street.

“We don’t normally see that many affected,” Lund said, adding that power was restored after about 55 minutes.

But the beat went on at Dempsey’s Public House at 226 Broadway. Manager Jeff Fonder said the bartenders lit candles and kept serving beer after the lights went out.

Not even the band packed it in after the outage. Members of Poitin, an Irish folk act, kept playing acoustically.

Up the street at Empire Liquors, 424 Broadway, customers stayed until the regular closing time at 2 a.m.

Working in the dark wasn’t in the cards for the Sports Bar, 619 NP Ave., where employees closed the establishment early, even though business was peaking at the time.

Lund said the outage was caused by a breaker failure in Xcel’s system.

While the outage affected many, emergency responders didn’t have many issues. Downtown’s fire department responded to about eight calls after the outage triggered alarms, and the Fargo Police Department reported no significant problems.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533