Efforts to squelch State Patty’s Day 2014 underway

A Penn State administrator hopes efforts earlier this year to halt State Patty’s Day were successful enough that the community soon will be able to “put a dagger through the heart” of the student-created drinking holiday.

That’s what Penn State administrator Damon Sims told a group of State College businessmen and women Tuesday during a Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County luncheon at the Mountain View Country Club near Boalsburg. State College borough Manager Tom Fountaine also took part in the presentation, which had data that are part of a report on State Patty’s Day that is being prepared for release later this month.

State Patty’s Day 2013 might best be remembered as the version that saw the most extreme step taken since its inception in 2007 to zap the student-declared drinking holiday. Penn State and the borough paid bars, six-pack shops and restaurants $5,000 stipends to close or not sell alcohol, and most of the money came from Penn State parking fines.

Sims and Fountaine think that contributed to the lower number of police calls from previous years, such as the height of the mayhem in 2011. But the officials are not calling the dip a trend yet.

For instance, Penn State police officers issued 46 citations in 2013, which was 60 fewer than they did in 2012. State College police saw a hefty decline in citations, too: 138 in 2013 compared with 222 in 2012.

There were 22 people taken to the hospital over the State Patty’s Day weekend this year, which is down from the past two years that saw three-dozen people hospitalized.

Penn State’s ambulance service handled fewer patients in 2013 than 2012, and Centre LifeLink EMS saw fewer calls, according to data from Fountaine.

The only statistic that hasn’t fallen off is the average blood alcohol level of people admitted to the hospital, which was 0.285 in 2013 and has been above and below that mark over the past five years.

Sims and Fountaine said the planning for the anti-State Patty’s Day campaign hasn’t begun yet, and Sims said he’s not sure if all the same factors that made the holiday not as fun as previous years will be in place.

For instance, Sims said the parking fine revenues that funded the $5,000 stipends aren’t as plentiful this year.

“I would like to sustain that another year, but finding those resources has become increasingly challenging at the university,” he said.

Sims said he’s not sure the state’s Liquor Control Board will agree to close the liquor stores this year as was done last year.