Penn State has enlisted another restaurant in the effort to create an alcohol-free downtown, and beer distributors have been added to the list of businesses that are going dry Saturday for State Patty’s Day.
University officials said Wednesday that 34 of 35 downtown State College establishments have now agreed to accept monetary compensation from Penn State to stop selling alcohol on the student-created drinking holiday.
One downtown restaurant will serve alcohol to its dinner guests. A second restaurant, which had remained undecided Tuesday, took the university’s offer on Wednesday. Last year, the entire downtown was alcohol free.
The list of businesses that will stop serving alcohol this year includes all downtown taverns and bottle shops. Now you can throw beer distributors on that list, according to a release from Penn State. The university said distributors have been offered a stipend to prohibit the sale of alcohol, but they did not indicate how much that offer was, which distributors it was extended to and which have accepted.
A Penn State spokesperson could not provide additional information about the distributors Wednesday.
The university offered a tiered compensation system this year based on occupancy, giving the largest establishments $7,500 for halting the sale of alcohol and $2,500 for the smallest. According to figures provided by Penn State, it would pay out $173,000 to downtown businesses.
Penn State and State College officials hope the move, and other efforts under way, curtails student drinking during the annual celebration.
“By changing the dynamics of downtown, law enforcement will be able to put heavier focus on apartment complexes, the neighborhoods and other off-campus student housing — the areas that have historically been the most troublesome on State Patty’s Day,” State College Police Chief Tom King said in a statement.
State College officials are offering a free parking validation program Saturday aimed at getting customers into downtown businesses and restaurants. Customers will receive up to four free hours of parking in any of the borough operated parking garages. More information on the program can be found at www.downtownstatecollege.com/pages/park_easy.
Penn State students are also doing their part, volunteering in record numbers to do some good on State Patty’s Day, according to the university.
“A newfound partnership with both the Panhellenic and Interfraternity councils has lead to an anticipated 1,000 student volunteers — a record 238 percent increase from last year,” said Zane Douglass, president of the Council of LionHearts, the umbrella organization for campus service leaders. “Collectively we are looking forward to engaging students from all areas of campus in service events and are proud to see so many fellow Penn Staters answering the call to make a positive contribution within the surrounding community.”
The day of service event currently has about 934 volunteers, contributing 2,800 hours of their time at 37 different agencies, Penn State said.
As in past years, the Penn State Interfraternity Council has banned social functions during the weekend, and the Panhellenic Council has adopted a no-guest policy for sorority floors at residence halls.
State College and university police will be heavily mobilized throughout the weekend and be supported by officers from the Pennsylvania State Police, Liquor Control Enforcement and regional police forces. Code enforcement offers also will have an increased presence, targeting noise, overoccupancy, litter and other violation, according to the university statement.
“It seems increasingly doubtful that anyone looking for a drunken festival will find one in our community on State Patty’s Day,” said Damon Sims, Penn State’s vice president for student affairs. "This day has proved dangerous, damaging and unnecessary. We hope to replace it with an event the entire community will embrace."
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.