Special Reports

Grab control of State Patty's

Like clockwork, as soon as Penn State students returned from break the drumbeat began for State Patty's Day 2010.

It’s coming — and fast — on Feb. 27.

Thought it would die for lack of interest? No way. A Facebook group promoting it has grown like wildfire, with almost 8,000 fans as of late last week.

There may be no stopping it, but there should be ways to control this event that got out of control last year and cost borough taxpayers $4,500 for police overtime.

Remember the details of State Patty’s 2009, the third annual student drunk fest celebrating the holiday early on a weekend?

Let’s recap: There were 311 calls to State College police, more than the volume of the previous year’s homecoming or night football weekend.

There were 79 summary criminal arrests, 14 DUI arrests, 21 alcohol overdoses, 31 loud-noise citations and several cases of vandalism. Two people were struck by vehicles downtown.

At times, local ambulances were so busy transporting drunks that no medical personnel were available for an actual emergency in the Centre Region.

Afterward, State College police Lt. Chris Fishel asked, “What purpose does it serve? It has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. It’s just a grass-roots dangerous drinking weekend.”

You can be sure students from other colleges, along with alumni who just want to be students again for one brief weekend, will descend on State College for State Patty’s Day No. 4.

The community can take a few steps to prevent being held hostage on the last week of February. Here are a few:

Bars should keep normal operating hours and refrain from featuring anything but their regular specials.

Downtown stores should not offer State Patty’s Day clothing or otherwise promote the event in any way.

Penn State should warn students and punish those who are arrested on this weekend to the maximum allowed.

Other ideas can be shared in our Focus on Excessive Drinking series that will continue on this page every Monday during the spring semester. It’s time for the community to step up to gain control of an event that won’t go away.