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Nearly All Downtown Bars Will Not Serve Alcohol on State Patty's Day

by on February 25, 2014 2:21 PM

As part of an effort to put an end to State Patty's Day – a Penn State student-created event that promotes binge drinking – nearly all bars, restaurants and bottle shops have accepted the university's new cash incentive to not serve alcohol during the event.

Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims says 33 of 35 downtown establishments have agreed to either close or not serve alcohol on State Patty's Day. One restaurant had not yet made a decision as of Tuesday afternoon and Spat's Cafe, a downtown restaurant, is expected to serve alcohol with meals.

For the second year in a row, Penn State offered cash to downtown businesses in exchange for a ban on alcohol sales on State Patty's Day. University, law enforcement and borough officials say an alcohol-free zone significantly contributed to a decrease in crime during last year's event.

Last year, the university paid $5,000 to downtown bars and restaurants in exchange for an alcohol-free day. This year, the university is offering a four-tier compensation system to individual establishments based on occupancy levels:

- Businesses with occupancy of 350 or more: $7,500

- Businesses with occupancy from 250-349: $6,000

- Businesses with occupancy from 100-249: $5,000

- Businesses with occupancy levels less than 100: $2,500

Compensation is in exchange for establishments not selling alcohol during the 24-hour period of Saturday, March 1.

Last year, the university used funds from revenues in campus parking operations on previous State Patty's Days to cover the incentive. This year, funds will likely again come from auxiliary enterprises such as parking.

Officials say the goal is to make downtown unattractive to revelers and ultimately put an end to State Patty's Day.

In 2007, Penn State students created State Patty's Day as an alternative drinking celebration after learning St. Patrick's Day fell during spring break. Since then, the event has created alcohol-related mayhem downtown.

From public drunkenness to vandalism to sexual assaults to alcohol poisoning, the event keeps local first responders busy. Police say an alcohol-free downtown significantly contributed to a roughly 37-percent decline in crime during the 2013 event.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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