BREAKING: Attorneys Andrew Shubin and Sean McGraw fighting corruption and demanding accountability

Rowdy crowds return to State Patty's Day; police report more people in town and more crime than 2010

Cliff White and Wildamie Ceus
February 27, 2011
Centre Daily Times

STATE COLLEGE — Clad in green and blowing vuvuzelas, thousands of young people swarmed downtown State College on Saturday to celebrate State Patty’s Day, a student-created holiday centered on drinking.

Despite efforts by local officials to tamp down this year’s festivities, State College police Lt. Chris Fishel reported there were more people in town and more crime than last year’s event.

Police responded to more than 110 incidents in a 24-hour period through Saturday morning, about three times as many as a normal Friday night, Fishel said. During the entire State Patty’s Day weekend last year, State College police responded to about 365 calls related to the event, most of them alcohol-related.

Fights, false identification, and public urination and intoxication represented a majority of offenses committed by Saturday afternoon, Fishel said, adding that he expected the revelry to continue until about 4 a.m. today.

A spokeswoman for Mount Nittany Medical Center reported more than 40 people had been treated for alcohol-related injuries and conditions from 9 p.m. Thursday through 9 p.m. Saturday, some with severe injuries.

As with previous years’ festivities, many of those getting in trouble are not Penn State students. Fishel reported misdemeanors involving students from the University of Pittsburgh, St. Joseph’s University, Slippery Rock University, Virginia Tech and the University of West Virginia.

“It’s like a home football night game. People are partying right up to kickoff, except there’s no kickoff,” Fishel said.

Streets downtown began to see State Patty’s Day-related traffic by about 10 a.m. By 2 p.m., there were lines to get int bars, and the sidewalks were packed with revelers. The streets stayed crowded through the afternoon and into the night. At about 9:40 p.m., Indigo, a nightclub at 112 W. College Ave., shut down because of the large crowd that had lined up waiting to get inside, police said. The line stretched to South Fraser Street and was blocking traffic.

Earlier in the day, Andrew and Mark, two young men who wouldn’t give their last names, said they had come from Bucknell University and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, respectively, for the party.

“There’s no party this size at Bucknell,” Andrew said.

A student from Bloomsburg University, waiting to get into the Gingerbread Man, said he came to State College to see what the hype was about.

“This town is really live,” he said. “It seems like State Patty’s is like a rite of passage for students, and the authorities trying to stop it just make it worse because we’re going to rage either way.”

One young man traveled 14 hours from Alabama to celebrate his first State Patty’s Day. After climbing atop a mound of snow in front of Five Guys Burgers and Fries and posing for pictures with a keg of beer, he expressed his excitement for the alcohol-fueled celebration.

“It’s a wonderful experience,” he said. “My best friend is a junior here, and he’s been trying to get me up here forever. He was recruiting a bunch of us for months. I don’t know any other place that has this much fun.”

When asked if he was drunk, he answered, “If you’re asking me if I’m having fun, my answer is yes.”

Police reported at least four citations that included hospitalization, three of them related to underage drinking:

•At 11:17 p.m. Friday, a 20-year-old man was seen by police falling down repeatedly while walking on McKee Street. After he was brought to Mount Nittany Medical Center for treatment, he became disorderly and had to be restrained and sedated. He will be charged with disorderly conduct.

•A drunken 19-year-old was found trying to enter a house on the 400 block of Martin Terrace at around 11:30 p.m. on Friday. He was also taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center.

•A 16-year-old boy was found intoxicated, lying down and throwing up on the sidewalk on the 500 block of South Pugh Street at 12:52 a.m. Saturday. He was hospitalized and will be charged with providing false information to police.

•A man who passed out drunk in the lobby of the Days Inn at 240 S. Pugh St. at 3:31 a.m. Saturday also took a trip to the hospital.

Not everyone out on the streets downtown Saturday was out to party. A few local churches had a stand set up on McAllister Street and were handing out free hot chocolate and water.

“We’re just trying to keep people hydrated and keep some kids out of the hospital,” volunteer Kim Dick said.

Cliff White can be reached at 235-3928. Wildamie Ceus is a journalism student at Penn State.