NU grad brings alcohol-free fun to Boston

By Laura Finaldi, News Staff.

Photo Courtesy/Creative Commons/Arvindgrover

For Ken Procaccianti, the choice not to drink was a simple one. The 2004 Northeastern graduate was neither raised by parents who drank, nor was he scarred with memories of a bad first drinking experience – getting plastered was just never on his agenda.

The only challenge came with finding activities around the city not centered around drinking, and Procaccianti often found himself frustrated with the lack of things to do.

This frustration quickly turned into a desire to unite students who felt the same way as him, and thus “Hammered”, a student organization dedicated to providing students with fun, non-alcohol centered activities, was born Procaccianti’s sophomore year. He and his fellow club members organized everything from concerts and movie trips to guest speaker events and film festivals for students looking for alternatives to the typical Mission Hill party or flip cup tournament.

The group eventually disbanded a couple years after Procaccianti graduated, but his desire to provide sober students with things to do didn’t go anywhere. On Sept. 8, he returned to the booze-free scene with the launch of Hammered.org, a website dedicated to providing students and Boston residents with fun events not centered around alcohol.

“We look past the pub crawls and beer pong tournaments to find something fun to do without drinking or drugs,” Procaccianti said. “Whether you’re looking to not drink for one night or your whole life, Hammered.org is going to have something that appeals to you.”

Visitors can subscribe to the free weekly e-newsletter that has blurbs on speakers, street fairs and movie screenings happening in the area. It also has a calendar keeping track of all of these events and more that can be viewed by non-subscribers. Since the site launched so recently, Procaccianti would not disclose how many subscribers the e-newsletter has, but he said user response has been “awesome” so far.

Chelsea Henderson, a junior mathematics major, is one such user. Henderson said she came to Northeastern with every intention not to drink, but the lack of dry things to do would sometimes lead her to do so anyway out of boredom.

Hearing about Hammered.org via an email from Northeastern, she said, was like hitting the jackpot. Through the site, she has won a free round of bowling, signed up for a city-wide scavenger hunt similar to Husky Hunt and made plans to attend a film festival next month.

“[Hammered.org] is such a resource,” she said. “There are tons of other people that are interested in doing things outside of alcohol. I really just wish that when I was a freshman there was a site like this, because I definitely would have done things differently.”

Henderson said she likes the site not only because it provides her with sober activities, but also because it doesn’t preach to those who do like to drink.

“Many people drink, but want to do activities other than drinking. Anyone can use it, regardless of stance or how you view alcohol,” she said. “There’s no moral message attached to it.”

Using Boston as a launch pad was all part of the plan for Procaccianti, who said it made sense because of the city’s prominence as a college town.

Right now, only Boston-based activities are featured. Expansion of the site to New York City or smaller college towns in the Southeast – areas where partying is prominent – is in the works.

To this day, Procaccianti still chooses not to drink, which he said is a personal decision that has nothing to do with any kind of bad experience.

“It’s like when someone asks you why you don’t like asparagus or something, you know, ‘I just don’t like it, it doesn’t appeal to me.’ I just feel like alcohol should be treated the same way,” he said.