STATE COLLEGE — It’s almost 9:15 on a Saturday morning and it isn’t yet clear if the voice echoing up and down East Beaver Avenue is issuing a proclamation, a warning, or perhaps just a friendly reminder.
“State Patty’s Day!” a man shouts, invoking the same words etched on several of the green garments sported by Penn State students strolling the sidewalks in anticipation of the unofficial holiday.
Recent years have seen State Patty’s Day undergo a decline in the decadence that plagued its earlier incarnations. In the past, Penn State has paid local bars and restaurants to close or restrict the sale of alcohol. On Saturday, the bars remained open and available for State Patty’s Day festivities for the first time in two years.
“I actually think it’s nice that they opened the bars this weekend. I never understood why they closed them,” Colton Houseal, a senior at Penn State Harrisburg, said.
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This is Houseal’s fourth State Patty’s Day voyage. A football season ticket holder, he enjoys making the trek to State College to see familiar and new faces alike. His plans for Saturday included attending a few parties and meeting friends at the local bars.
“It’s just a good time, everybody’s having fun,” said Houseal.
Junior John Moont cited the importance of personal responsibility when it came to the day’s events.
“As long as I’m not part of it, I don’t feel responsible for other people’s actions,” Moont said.
Just as in 2014, police operated at maximum staff to accommodate the crowds downtown. State College Police Chief Tom King said that this weekend has been slightly busier than last year’s celebration, but nowhere near the levels of State Patty’s Days past.
“It’s been busy, but not overwhelming,” King said.
Students were presented other activities to help divert them from the State Patty’s Day festivities. In addition to the Thaw film, music and arts festival taking place around town, Saturday also doubled as State Day of Service. In coordination with the Council of LionHearts, more than 650 students and community members were sent to 39 service sites throughout the area.
“These student leaders wanted to address the harm being done during what was becoming a very busy and unhealthy weekend for our college students,” said Student Activities Program Director Matt Barone.
Opportunities to serve included sorting donations at Lion’s Pantry, a food pantry for Penn State students, and painting at Mommy Shoppe, an organization in Centre County that provides clothing to families in need.
Penn State senior Veronica Mossad joined a group of volunteers from Gamma Sigma Sigma at the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, where they reorganized storage closets and repainted the walls. Mossad spent her morning out in the snow helping to take down an old shed in the center’s backyard. She was happy to be putting State Patty’s Day 2015 to good use.
“To be able to counteract all the destruction we’ve seen in years before and help the community, it’s really cool,” Mossad said.