STATE COLLEGE — State Patty’s Day was not exactly quiet on Saturday, but police said crime was down by almost half over 2013.
At the State College Police Department, a list of incidents showed plenty of activity even before the official start of the unofficial drinking holiday. Between 8 a.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday, the department responded to 11 car crashes (three of them hit-and-run), four acts of criminal mischief, four noise complaints, nine disorderly conducts and a public urination. Then there were the ones that were clearly alcohol related. The three underage drinking, three driving under the influence, two open containers, two furnishing alcohol to minors and one public intoxication.
But according to Chief Tom King, the arrests between noon Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday show a downturn in numbers compared to last year by 47 percent. That is on top of a 37 percent decrease that Penn State reported last year.
Sunday morning, Ferguson Township police reported that the Centre County Alcohol Task Force made eight DUI arrests from Friday night through early Sunday, seven involving individuals driving under the influence of alcohol and one for driving under the influence of marijuana. The task force effort included officers from Ferguson, Patton and Spring townships and State College borough.
Task-force patrols also issued two citations for public drunkenness and two for underage drinking, the report showed.
“It’s not too bad,” State College Lt. Chris Fishel said Saturday. “It’s similar to a football weekend except people are wearing green instead of blue and white.”
Fishel said that, in addition to fewer arrests, the times that law enforcement had contact with State Patty’s Day revelers have been easier to handle.
“It’s definitely different between years past,” he said. He gave some credit to the payoff received by 34 bars and five area beer distributors to stop serving alcohol for the day, as well as a ban on fraternity parties.
The drinking and celebrating was still evident at times around town.
Early in the day, party-goers could be seen hauling cases of beer out of cars in front of Beaver Avenue apartment buildings or carrying them uphill as they walked on Fraser Street. Directly in front of the State College Municipal Building, home to the police department, rival groups of more than a dozen partiers on either side of the road hooted and catcalled at each other as they passed in opposite directions. Pictures of active (or passed out) revelers blossomed on Twitter and Instagram.
Much of the partying seemed tame, however. On Beaver Avenue, a large crowd clustered eating pizza at outdoor tables. Centre Area Transportation Authority bus stops were often filled with green shirts but not many visible problems.
Chris Lare and a friend were shopping for green garb at Metro, which billed itself as the official home of State Patty’s Day merchandise. Although he graduated in December, Lare was here for the parties.
“It’s just something to do with friends,” he said.
Fishel, however, said he was glad to see others downtown on Saturday. Adults shopping and dining, families having fun with kids, and others just taking advantage of the four hours of free parking that State College was offering as incentive to bring non-partiers in.
“There was a good mix of people doing business,” he said.