Will Green Break be a clean break?

By Walt Braun

We’re inclined to hope that Saturday’s Green Break — the Aggieville bash formerly known as Fake Patty’s Day — will turn out well, but we’ll have to see it to believe it.

As they did last year, partiers — including many from out of town and perhaps out of state — will come in force. This time, however, organizers will be more prepared.

For starters, a small army of law enforcement officials will be on hand. Personnel from K-State, Junction City, Emporia and Pottawatomie County, Riley County Corrections, as well as the Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Division of Alcohol Beverage Control, will reinforce the Riley County Police Department. They might not all be strolling Aggieville in uniform, but the least they’ll do is free RCPD officers for that mission while adding eyes and expertise and performing other functions as needed.

Prime Aggieville real estate — especially Moro Street from 11th to Manhattan Avenue —will be closed to vehicles Saturday as requested by the Aggieville Business Association. That will allow food and merchandise vendors to operate in the street — and take up space that otherwise might well be occupied by milling or stumbling revelers. Wisely, the ABA also is bolstering the inventory of portable restrooms as well as trash collection.

In City Park, Riley County Emergency Medical Services will staff a first aid station, and law enforcement will operate a command post in the Wefald Pavilion.

Parking will be handled better than it has been in the past, with well-marked areas available in City Park and clear signs warning that violators’ vehicles will be towed.

No one is pretending that Aggieville and neighboring streets will be free of intoxicated revelers or individuals who might need emergency assistance. But a couple of useful measures ought to help maintain order. The Manhattan Fire Department will have staff in Aggieville until the bars close to monitor overcrowding. Also, both Fort Riley and Kansas State will operate Safe Ride into the wee hours of Sunday morning; among other things, that will help protect the innocent from predators and dissuade drunks from trying to drive home. Also, NCOs from the post will circulate in Aggieville in the event issues arise involving soldiers.

The city’s Code Services will deal with sanitary nuisances in adjoining neighborhoods, and in a job that we wouldn’t wish on anyone, Manhattan Good Neighbors will sponsor a student volunteer cleanup Sunday morning.

Whether these steps and others are enough to allow partiers to enjoy themselves without giving the city a black eye won’t be known until Sunday. If, when it’s over, the occasion is judged to be more of a Green Break than recent Fake Patty’s Days, city officials, Aggieville businesses and local residents ought to offer a collective sigh of relief.

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