To Manhattan, it’s Fake Patty’s Day. To State College, Pa., it’s State Patty’s Day. And to Champaign, Ill., it’s known simply as Unofficial.
No, the contrived drinking frenzy that arrives annually the week before the real St. Pat’s is not unique to Manhattan. It’s the scourge (and the economic boon) of many a college town across the country.
Because of the influx of drunken revelers, Fake Patty’s Day and its counterparts present both minor inconveniences and major safety risks for attendees and other residents. But each municipality has found its own way of dealing with it.
Manhattan has beefed up the police presence and opted to close Moro Street to cars, keeping the chaos of Aggieville more contained. Here’s how two other cities deal with the green-clad hordes:
State Patty’s Day
At State College, home of Penn State, the event had gotten so out of control that for this year’s State Patty’s Day on Feb. 23, the city and university paid bars and alcohol retailers not to sell booze, according to a story by NPR.
More than three dozen businesses reportedly agreed to go dry for State Patty’s Day in return for a $5,000 check. (That adds up to about $190,000 in payments, which comes mostly from previous State Patty’s Day parking revenues.) That amount doesn’t cover the profits many bars would earn but supporters said that they’re willing to make the sacrifice for the benefit of the university, especially as it looks to improve its image following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
The NPR story points out that not all bar owners were happy with the initiative; some said they felt forced to sign the agreement. One bar owner also contended that the move would backfire. He said the drinking wouldn’t stop; it would just move to private homes. He added that bar employees are better prepared to handle rowdy guests, making partying at bars safer than partying at houses.
But it appears that the measure worked, at least to some degree: following the event, the State College Police Department tweeted that it saw a 20-percent drop in police activity between Friday evening and Saturday evening compared with the previous year’s State Patty’s Day.
In Champaign and Urbana, Ill., Unofficial St. Patty’s Day is a weekendlong event that brings tens of thousands of people to the area. This year’s celebration took place March 1 and 2.
In 2008, the university chancellor sent a letter to parents asking them to encourage students to ‘act in their best interests and the best interests of the University of Illinois.’ And the cities’ mayors have also worked to curb drinking.
The mayor of Champaign, Ill., Jerry Schwieghart, is also its liquor commissioner. He has instituted a number of restrictions on alcohol sales to limit consumption during the event: restaurants and bars can’t serve alcohol until 10 a.m.; pitchers of beer are prohibited; drinks can only be served in bottles, cans, or paper or plastic cups; and residences are limited to one keg.
In addition, anyone purchasing a large amount of beer or liquor — a keg, seven cases or more of beer, or 24 or more 1-liter bottles of hard alcohol — must complete an ‘adult responsibility form.’ The main change this year was a new Illinois law effective Jan. 1 that says the host of an event can be held criminally liable for allowing underage possession or consumption of alcohol in his home. And the host does not have to be present to be deemed criminally responsible.
An article in the Champaign/ Urbana News-Gazette reported that 210 alcohol-related citations were issued at this year’s event, down from 310 in 2012. Emergency medical calls, however, were up from last year.