By now, just about every resident of the Northlad has hunkered down in cozy warm homes while the seasons first blizzard blows in with a vengence. But wait- one man... up on a rooftop... he's quite jolly, but he's not Santa Clause! That's Dan O'Hearon, owner of Custom Cab Company, and he's on top of the GapWest Broadcasting building located at 14 E. Central Entrance. He's been up there since noon Saturday, and has every intention of staying put, blizzard or not, until noon on Dec. 24th. Why? "It's an important issue" said O'Hearon yesterday. His goal is to promote an increased awareness of the dangers of drunk driving this holiday season, and to raise funds for a free "Sober Ride" for persons who may over indulge while celebrating the holidays. "If my being up here saves one life, or stops even one person from getting behind the wheel after drinking, then it'll be worth it." His temporary home is a 10 ft by 10 ft tent on the roof of GapWest, who are helping him promote the event. "I've packed alot of snow around the base of the tent, and I've got a couple of heaters. I think I'll be ok" he said. "I've got a TV that Pawn America is letting me use for the duration, and a comfortable chair; I've got all I need up here. I just hope the community will really get behind this. It seems the incidence of drunk driving always goes up around the holidays."
Dan's company, Custom Cab, is offering the free rides to patrons of local bars and nightclubs through January 1st. "The bartenders call us when they have someone who drank too much to safely drive home, and they have cards to give the person for the free cab ride. It's not intended to give people transportation to another bar, we'll only bring them to a residence or hotel." While Custom Cab is sponsoring this event, two other local taxi services have signed on as well. Sid's Taxi and Pinky's Taxi will be partipating in the Free Ride Program as well. Other area cab services delined to participate.
Dan will be accepting donations from his rooftop den by lowering a pail on a rope to people on the ground who wish to contribute. The donations will be used to help defray the expenses and lost income his employees will incur while providing the free rides. In addittion, several area businesses have collection jars for donations. "We've got some sponsors and contributors, we're advertising on the GapWest radio stations, we just really want people to be aware that there is an alternative to getting behind the wheel." If this years promotion is a success, he hopes to make the Free Ride Program an annual event.
At 10:30 p.m. Saturday, with the blizzard bearing down on him, O'Hearon vowed to stay put on the roof, saying "It's getting pretty windy, but I think I'll be okay. I'm not coming down." After a moments pause, he added "Unless my tent blows down."