It’s been more than a decade since the birth of State Patty’s Day — the student-created holiday that resulted from St. Patrick’s Day falling on Penn State’s spring break in 2007.
State Patty’s mushroomed from there, drawing thousands of students and out-of-towners to the so-called celebration. But over the years, State Patty’s Day has been characterized by property damage, increased crime and EMS calls, and excessive drinking.
It seemed to peak in 2011, when total arrests and citations climbed over 400, according to Penn State data.
The Facebook page for this year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, has 1,687 people marked as “going” and 1,904 “interested” by mid-day Thursday.
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There have been various efforts to curb State Patty’s Day’s effects in the past, including alternate events and bars closing.
On Tuesday, Tom Fountaine, borough manager, and Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs at Penn State, sent a letter to the downtown restaurants, taverns, bars and bottle shops asking for their help in further minimizing the holiday by avoiding drinking specials, extended hours and State Patty’s Day-themed promotions.
“In past years, the collective efforts of many among us, including downtown vendors, have been effective in limiting the problems caused by State Patty’s Day,” the letter states. “Although we understand that responsible vendors in downtown State College are not at all responsible for the problems caused by this event, we also know that your assistance will be instrumental in limiting the harm caused.”
Other steps have been taken to avoid dangerous drinking on Saturday: Interfraternity Council fraternities won’t host social events with alcohol; university residence halls will limit guests to one per room; State College and Penn State police will maintain a “robust” presence to deal with any issues, according to Penn State.
“Even with all these efforts and your assistance, State Patty’s Day is likely to present more challenges for our community than any other day of the year,” Sims and Fountaine in the letter. “Emergency medical services may be taxed, other patrons to downtown businesses may be discouraged away, and the community’s reputation could be damaged.
“None of us want those outcomes and we ask that you once again join with us and so many others in doing what you can to combat the disruptive and destructive consequences of State Patty’s Day.”