It’s the infamous weekend between Thon and the beginning of spring break — the unofficial holiday students have dubbed “State Patty’s Day.”
Penn State and the State College community have battled against the alcohol-fueled event for several years, going as far as to pay bars and restaurants to close or restrict sales of alcohol during that weekend.
“The idea was to make State Patty’s Day as unattractive as possible to those who wanted to come from out of town to attend a drinking holiday and bar crawl,” Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims said.
But these businesses said they wouldn’t do that again, Sims said. So a new event is being planned with the hope that it will be attractive to residents and students.
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And so, Thaw was born.
The event, billed as a music, comedy and film festival, would take place the weekend of Feb. 27 to March 1.
Joining the planned events is the College Town Film Festival, the independent film festival headed by Penn State associate professor of communications Matt Jordan. It will run alongside the Thaw events from Feb. 25 to March 1.
Instead of a typical film festival showing 20 films at the same time all over town, Jordan said, the CTFF will screen one film at a time, targeted to specific audiences.
“It’s really about generating conversations and generating awareness about the filmmakers and the films,” he said.
He’s not looking at it as the antidote to State Patty’s Day, he said. He’s trying to create an interesting festival that will generate conversations about important issues, which could help counter the effects of a drinking holiday, he said.
“I think that we’re excited to be something that’s part of the community and part of the university,” CTFF co-founder Eric Zudak said.
Jordan said he has met with Sims, State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine and Levels Nightclub manager Tim Crockett, who, according to Jordan, has been involved in the promotion of the potential musical and comedy acts that would be featured during Thaw.
Neither the borough nor Penn State is helping with the planning of the event, Fountaine said. The two entities, along with other members of the community, established a “partnership united against dangerous drinking” in previous years to combat the binge drinking usually seen during the State Patty’s weekend.
He and Sims have reconvened the task force, he said, to ensure the borough and the university are prepared with appropriate police and public safety responses.
Sims said everything needed to address the State Patty’s concerns — policing, minimizing alcohol and crowd problems — will be in place for Thaw as well.
“I think that everyone understands if this is simply State Patty’s Day renewed,” he said, “it will happen one time and one time only.”