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State Patty's Day Down, But Not Out

by on March 01, 2015 6:30 AM

It could only be expected that State Patty’s Day would see a slight rebound in 2015 as the bars opened on the holiday for the first time in two years.

At the same time, a subdued version of the holiday’s early years -- even with drinking establishments back in the mix -- is sure to be a welcome sight to State College residents and the borough.

While crime statistics from Saturday are not yet available, it did appear that State Patty’s Day was still a popular event.

At around 10 p.m., the handful of open bars in town boasted abnormally large lines. The Phyrst, Shandygaff, Local Whiskey, Brewery, Cafe 210 West, and Lion's Den had all shut down, but Indigo filled nearly an entire block of College Avenue with hopeful patrons. Bill Pickle’s Tap Room and Zeno’s blanketed the sidewalk on Allen Street. And yet there seemed to be some sort of order to it all.

“With the bars open, I feel like it’s quieter because there’s controlled chaos,” says Keith, a Penn State senior. “There’s more people inside.”

Keith didn’t want a last name attached to his opinions on the faux-holiday, opinions that served as a counterpoint to the masses sporting green downtown on Saturday. For Keith, who has seen four State Patty’s Days now, the holiday has strayed from its roots.

“It’s disappointing that a holiday that was originally for Penn State students is now for everybody in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and all of the surrounding states,” he says. “It’s kind of annoying, because to get into Indigo on a usual Saturday night it takes 15 minutes and now it’s an hour and a half. They come here and they destroy our town for their benefit.”

While being the cause of longer bar lines isn’t exactly a form of destruction, the sentiment that out-of-towners bring an air of recklessness with them on this weekend each year isn’t a unique one.

State College resident Greg Mazzara, 26, was happy to see a “more chill” State Patty’s Day yesterday. He says that it seemed a lot quieter and calmer than in the past.

“It’s good for the bars and the local economy. Businesses are making money and I like that because I like where I live,” Mazzara says. “But on that same token, these kids are going out and making themselves sick, endangering themselves, probably driving and endangering others. I’m not too fond of the whole thing, but I’m cordial and I’ll treat everyone well.”

Another Penn State senior, Tiki, who too asked not to have his last name printed, says the State College Police Department – and outside police forces who help patrol the streets on State Patty’s Day – have succeeded in maintaining order.

“There’s been far less going on in town. When I was a freshman, I would walk down the street and you’d just see so much craziness going on,” he says. “With the cops out in full force, everyone is shaping up. I feel like the town has done a really good job handling the holiday this year.”

On the fringes of State College’s downtown area, crowds in green State Patty’s Day attire could be seen through the windows of the Alpha Fire Company’s living room/kitchen. For the fire department, the holiday seems to be nothing more than a typical Saturday of business.

“It’s just a normal Saturday for us,” lieutenant Forest Rothrock says. “We sit around and do homework, had to do some training on Saturday afternoon. It’s interesting because the people who live in State College have a lot more of an opinion on it than the students do.”

Rothrock understands both sides of the argument. He’s a Penn State junior who came to the university specifically to be a live-in at Alpha Fire. But on State Patty’s Day, it’s all business for Rothrock, although that business may be less interesting than you might suspect.

“It’s a much quieter day for the fire department than for EMS or police. We mostly just get fire alarms for smoke from burnt food,” he says. “Being drunk and cooking don’t mix very well. It’s just a lot of drunk people being drunk and reckless, falling asleep after putting something in the oven.”

On Friday night, the highlight for Alpha Fire was a trashcan fire, which was likely started by a lit cigarette. Rothrock says that dumpster fires from cigarettes are a common occurrence in State College.

As for EMS, Rothrock says LifeLink received 16 calls on Friday night, all of which were alcohol-related. This compares to what he says would be just five or six calls on an average weekend night.

But on days like Saturday, the primary worry for Rothrcok is safety.

“The main concern for us is that we just have to be cautious driving around,” Rothrock says. “You never know when someone is just going to stumble into the street when it’s crowded in town and there’s a lot of alcohol being consumed.”

He says that hospitalization numbers related to alcohol ramp up on State Patty’s Day, mostly because out-of-towners are unable to tell EMS where they are.

Across the Alpha Fire living room table from Rothrock, volunteer firefighter and Penn State student Brian Rohrbaugh tossed in his opinion on the holiday.

“I don’t personally care for State Patty’s Day,” he says. “But people do this every day. There just happen to be more people than usual doing it today.”

That might just be an opinion that everyone can agree on. At the very least, resident Greg Mazzara offered a similar judgment of State Patty’s Day on Saturday.

“These kids were all going to come out here and drink anyway,” he says. “They don’t need another day to give them an excuse.”

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Zach Berger is the managing editor of He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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