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THAW Festival Brings The Fight To State Patty's Day Weekend

by on February 28, 2015 4:54 PM

In the battle of State Patty's Day versus the THAW Festival, it seems that the latter might have come away victorious on Saturday.

The festival was created by the borough, university, and local art groups in order to combat the negative impact of State Patty's Day on State College.

The holiday was created seven years ago when the university purposely moved spring break to the week of St. Patrick's Day. It acted as a form of protest for students, essentially telling the administrators that they would celebrate the holiday whether or not Old Main wanted them to.

On the other hand, THAW was created to turn the weekend into something more community-oriented. Where the weekend usually brings out-of-towner students to the area to consume alcohol, THAW intended to give local families and residents some more wholesome fun to take part in. From comedy shows to movie showings/panel discussions to musical performances, there is something for everyone at THAW.

Ethan Jones, a 10-year-old State College resident, came out to see a local blues artist play on Saturday afternoon.

"This is our first THAW event that we’ve been to so far. We were just looking for something to do this weekend with the family," he says. "My parents dragged us out here. I think that State Patty’s Day is fine but I kind of get weirded out when I just see the kids staggering all over the street."

Jones might be young, but he's certainly not in the minority among locals when it comes to a negative opinion on State Patty's Day. Randi Menard, a Park Forest Middle School teacher who spent her Saturday enjoying THAW, feels that the festival will be a building point for the borough going forward. 

"I think it’s a fantastic community event. It’s great to have something that features entertainment during the day, not just at night like we usually have in this town," Menard says. "I hope it does stick around in the coming years."

Menard was encouraged by the presence of Penn State students wearing green shirts at a THAW comedy show on Saturday. 

"That was good to see," she says. "It’s a very positive alternative and it’s great for the rest of the community to be able to enjoy the weekend."

State College Chief Tom King says that THAW is a great opportunity to fight State Patty's Day.

“We need people to use these venues," King says. "We need people to come into town, and I think that in itself helps keep control of things by having more sober people around."

As for State Patty's Day, those are three words that King won't even say.

“We’re not calling it that. We’re told that the weekend is going to be called THAW,” he says.

And it certainly looked like THAW was putting up a good fight on Saturday afternoon. The typical wave of green shirts could be seen around town, but there was also a notable increase in the presence of locals roaming downtown State College.

THAW Festival spokesperson Vinh Vuong says he won't comment on THAW's success until Sunday, but it would be surprising to hear anything other than a positive review from the organizations. 

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Zach Berger is the managing editor of StateCollege.com. 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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