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Lion's Den, Shandygaff to Close for State Patty's Day; Liquor Stores to Shorten Hours

on February 16, 2012 5:08 PM

At least two State College bars -- the Lion's Den and the Shandygaff -- plan to close entirely for the State Patty's Day drinking holiday this month, a downtown establishment operator said Thursday.

At the same time, the state Liquor Control Board will close early its four State College-area wine-and-liquor stores, an LCB spokeswoman said. All four stores are slated to close at 6 p.m. -- three hours ahead of their normal schedule -- on State Patty's Day, as they did last year.

The student-created drinking holiday, set for Feb. 25, is entering its sixth year in the borough. A number of licensed establishments downtown shortened their hours, limited alcohol service or closed completely for the occasion last year.

Many have yet to announce their plans for State Patty's Day 2012. For Chris Rosengrant, who operates the Lion's Den, 118 S. Garner St., shutting down for the day will mean a $10,000 to $20,000 revenue hit, he said.

But "I really don't think it's right for anyone to open on this day," Rosengrant said Thursday. " ... We just really felt with everything that's happened this past year, and in years past with State Patty's Day, the community leaders are looking for support. This is the only way we can show it and do it for them."

He and Mark Sapia, who runs the Shandygaff, 212 E. Calder Way, closed their bars for State Patty's Day 2011, too. Rosengrant said he and Sapia agree: "It's not that we're anti-partying. It's just that this day has given Penn State -- it's been such a negative connotation for Penn State and State College that we believe in foregoing the money.

"Last year, it (closing) really deterred a lot of people from drinking," Rosengrant said.

Establishments that closed or altered their alcohol-service hours last year include the Dante's Inc. operations, such as the Deli, Inferno and Bar Bleu; Indigo; and the Phyrst. The moves "had a tremendous impact," borough Manager Tom Fountaine said.

"That alone didn't eliminate the negative aspects of State Patty's Day, but it certainly helped," Fountaine said. He said the bars' efforts "did help to reduce a lot of the destructive and high-risk drinking that goes on around the day. ...

"I believe (their work) was in large part responsible for minimizing -- to the extent that it was minimized -- some of the most egregious situations," Fountaine said.

The bars' schedule changes, tightened liquor-store hours and a community-volunteerism program were among several local efforts intended to undermine State Patty's Day in 2011.

Still, police calls and arrests climbed that weekend. Criminal arrests by State College police numbered 234, up from 160 the prior year. Calls for service jumped, as well, growing to 480. The tally in 2010 had been 365.

With that as a backdrop, a number of student and community organizations are working again to counteract State Patty's Day, this time with a greater variety of programs and events. (Many are outlined in this earlier column.)

At the same time, Greek-life organizations at Penn State have pledged to make State Patty's Day a party-free day for their chapters. And university has limited the number of guests their dorm-dwelling students may host that weekend.

The State College Tavern Association, a nonprofit association of downtown bars, is in "full support" of such efforts, including the volunteerism-centered outreach supported by the borough, said group President Jennifer Zangrilli.

She said each association member will make its own decision about whether to stay open for State Patty's Day.

Meanwhile, the state Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement will beef up its State College presence for the weekend, just as it has for past State Patty's Days, district office Commander Dennis Smolko said.

"We're bringing the same amount of officers that we've had in previous years, the same amount of enforcement," Smolko said. He said LCE officers will be patrolling the downtown on both Feb. 25 and on the preceding night.

The bureau's work will be done in concert with the borough police, Smolko said. Bureau officers tend to put a particular emphasis on monitoring activity at licensed establishments.

In 2011, their undercover and uniformed patrols found no liquor-law violations in State College establishments over the State Patty's Day weekend. Many of the bars that remained open for the occasion limited their crowd levels and took other measures to contain the revelry.

Some Penn State students started State Patty's Day in 2007, when the traditional St. Patrick's Day fell during the Penn State spring break. Not wanting to miss out on a St. Patty's-style celebration in town, they created State Patty's Day as an alternative.

Its popularity has mushroomed heavily via social media, where it has gained a significant following on Facebook. Many of those who drink in State College on State Patty's Day arrive from outside the area -- a trend illustrated in police arrest records.

Earlier coverage

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