Aggieville was looking a little green on Saturday for Fake Patty’s Day, an alcohol-focused event in which thousands of college students flock to the area in an early celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
But the annual event was slow during the day, in part because crowds were split between the event and the Kansas State University home game against Baylor University at 12:30 p.m.
Though alcohol-related indignities like upset stomachs, slurred speech and public urination were still prevalent, the more relaxed atmosphere with fewer people and fewer crimes gave party-goers and emergency personnel an opportunity to enjoy the day in harmony for the most part.
“I’m kind of wondering if people have finally gotten their party legs under them after a few years of doing this,” Riley County EMS paramedic Nathan Dixon said. “I mean, we’re better prepared than we used to be for it, too,” he said.
And they were.
That was evidenced by the law enforcement and emergency crew base set up in Manhattan City Park.
Dixon said Aggieville had its own separate EMS system from the rest of the city for the day.
“It’s like it’s literally a city within a city right now,” he said.
The Riley County Police Department was fully prepared for Fake Patty’s Day with a temporary jail in the park pavilion, formerly the ice skating rink this winter, which had just been drained last week.
Riley County EMS also used the octagonal building in the park as a first-aid and detoxification station.
Dixon and EMT Kacie Mallen were operating a vehicle to transport people needing medical attention from Aggieville to the emergency camp.
“This is our little baby ambulance,” Dixon said.
The vehicle looked like a giant go-cart with a stretcher and medical supplies in the back.
And this year’s Fake Patty’s Day had little crime during the day.
By 5 p.m., police officers had made only one arrest in relation to Fake Patty’s Day events, said Officer Matthew Droge of the Riley County Police Department.
He said last year’s total was 70.
The early part of the day was so calm, in fact, that police officers posed with party-goers who asked for pictures and even gathered in a group to watch magic tricks from 17-year-old Jack Cunningham.
Dressed in a felt-looking green top hat, Cunningham showed EMS and Riley County police officers his magic card skills.
“I took this opportunity to show people — if they’re sober or drunk — to show them something magical they don’t see every day,” Cunningham said. “To do it at this event makes it a lot better.”
His Fake Patty’s Day performances gave him a big chance to practice.
Currently, Cunningham said he’s working on hypnotism in addition to his card tricks.
Droge gave some other statistics comparing Fake Patty’s Day 2013 to this year’s.
He said that there were a total of 359 calls for service last year but by 5 p.m. this year, there were only 146.
“That’s a pretty good start,” Droge said.
It might have helped that a large number of law enforcement and emergency workers were stationed in the Aggieville area.
In the early afternoon, Droge said 72 people were working the event, and by late afternoon that number was up to 162.
And Fake Patty’s Day patrons also might have noticed some out-of-town officers patroling.
The Junction City, Emporia and Hays police departments, along with the Pottawatomie and Lyons county sheriff’s departments, sent officials to Manhattan to help keep things under control.
The Manhattan Fire Department was a part of the fun, too, doing bar checks and making sure the establishments weren’t violating any codes by being over capacity.
Dixon said this year’s Fake Patty’s Day was a good time. “Honestly, it’s fun,” Dixon said. “I don’t think we’d do it if it wasn’t.”