Fan Photo: Recreation Tavern

Well, folks, we learn something new everyday! Today we have a little backstory about “Free Beer Day”. As many of you know, this slogan appears on the Back Stop Sports Pub located on Avenue B. We knew that the “free beer any time the sun doesn’t shine” offer was passed down from previous owners of the establishment. What we thought was it was the creation of Herb and Frannie Knauss when they took over the location in the mid-1950s. Well, it turns out it goes back further than that!

Tom Donnelly, pictured here on the right holding the free beer sign, is likely the originator of this deal. He owned the bar in the early 1950s. Here’s what his son, Vincent told us:

“Back in 1951 my family (Tom & Mart Donnelly plus me and my sister) moved to Boulder City from Flagstaff AZ. My Dad and a friend from Williams AZ had bought the Recreation Tavern so me (6th grade) and my sister Marilyn (4th grade) started at BCES (which had just opened). Soon after opening the Recreation Tavern my Dad experienced a very special…but unusual…in BC….a day with NO SUN. The date was MAY 14, 1951. So my Dad stood behind the bar …with a crowd of beer drinking customers…and had another customer take a PICTURE.


A few years later…probably around 1953…my Dad sold the Tavern to the husband & wife family that you have mentioned in your article.

Today (2021) I now live in Charlottesville, VA and on my home office wall I have that MAY 14, 1951 PICTURE.


ps..Several years ago my son was visiting BC and he stopped in at the Tavern and gave the owner a copy of that MAY 14, 1951 PICTURE. If you were to stop in there for a beer you will still see that picture hanging near the bar!!”

So there you have it guys – the origin of the “Free Beer Any Day The Sun Doesn’t Shine In Boulder City” slogan that has been handed down thru the years. We thank Vince Donnelly for this cool recollection and to Jim Widner for sharing the photo with us!

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