STATE PATTY'S DAY: Despite community calls for restraint, arrests double from last year

Party shows no signs of slowing

sganim@centredaily.comMarch 1, 2010 

STATE COLLEGE — Despite a big push from the community to make this the last State Patty's Day, police say Saturday was even more rowdy than last year.

It now appears the student-created holiday won’t die off as quickly as State College Police Chief Tom King had hoped.

State College police responded to about 365 calls related to the event. Most were alcohol-related, said Sgt. John Wilson. Penn State police handled another 55 calls. Centre LifeLink EMS responded to 58 calls between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Sunday. Thirty-one were alcohol related.

And the state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement issued nine citations to bars — six for selling to intoxicated patrons and three for selling alcohol to minors.

“An awful lot of parties were broken up,” Wilson said. “There was very heavy pedestrian traffic. ... Several foot pursuits. It was extremely challenging and a busy day for the law enforcement.”

State College officers were being assisted by Penn State police, state police and other departments — treating the weekend like a football weekend after being caught off-guard last year.

Still, King said the number of people arrested was doubled, from about 80 last year to 160 this year.

Those arrested included Jason Graham, who is facing aggravated assault charges after police say he punched an officer after a foot pursuit that began when he threw a snowball at a passing Jeep

Fraternities, sororities clean up neighborhood, and a passing unmarked police car.

“No officers were seriously injured,” Wilson said, “So it looks like we survived.”

Others charged include Ione Williams, who fought with bar staff at the Phyrst after being seen urinating at the front door to the Beaver Avenue bar. Williams was charged with resisting arrest.

A 19-year-old was cited for hugging a street sign for support after a day of drinking, police said.

Police are following up on several random assaults that sent people to the hospital:

• A man was treated at the hospital for a stitches and a black eye after someone bit his ear on the 700 block of East Beaver Avenue, around 2:50 a.m. Sunday.

• Another man needed 15 stitches after a beer bottle was broken above his eye on the 500 block of South Pugh Street, around 7:50 p.m. Saturday.

Police say 42 people were cited for underage drinking, and another 42 cited for disorderly conduct. Twenty-one people were charged with public drunkenness.

“I definitely found it busier this year than last year, which was disappointing,” King said. “It’s very obvious by the packs of people walking around the downtown and neighborhoods with all the green shirts and paraphernalia that there were a lot of people participating in the unsanctioned and made-up event.”

The Highlands Civic Association dubbed the event “Statepocolypse” on its message board, which included these firsthand accounts:

•“I called the police to shut down the party next door at around 5 p.m. There was a long line of people urinating or waiting to urinate around the garage and on the side of the house. You can still see all the yellow snow.”

•“Well, here on the 500 block of E. Foster the worst we saw yesterday was a drunk young man pooping (in broad daylight) in the front yard of our neighbors across the street — he had to use snow as toilet paper which is a bit of a consolation I guess.”

King noted that DUI arrests were down from 14 last year to nine Saturday. The number of people hospitalized for alcohol overdose dropped from 37 to 31.

But with bars promising not to open early or promote the event, and the Interfraternity Council and other student leaders calling for responsible drinking King had hoped this would be the last year students would organize State Patty’s Day. If Saturday was any indication, it no longer appears that will happen.

“There’s a lot of resources, and a lot of overtime, so I was hoping people would realize this isn’t what State College and Penn State is all about — that we don’t need a drinking holiday,” King said.

“I think based on the growth in it, in terms of the numbers of people participating, that it’s probably not the last year for it.”

At least one visitor plans to return.

“It was wild, absolutely ridiculous,” said Mike Tomasco, who started drinking at 11 a.m. “There was more people than ever. I’ll definitely be back next year.”

Tomasco, who drove up from the Philadelphia area to participate, was walking toward downtown — still in his green T-shirt — around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Sara Ganim can be reached at 231-4616.

State Patty's Day police response/2010:

Total Calls: 365, up 17 percent from 2009

Total Arrests, 160, up 103 percent from 2009

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