State Patty's Day
State Patty's Day is a student-led holiday that acts as a Pennsylvania State University alternative to the traditional Saint Patrick's Day. It began on Friday, March 2, 2007, due to the fact that Saint Patrick's Day fell during spring break, which would have left students unable to celebrate the holiday while at school and with friends. The first annual State Patty's Day took place on March 2, 2007. Students began flocking the streets of downtown State College, and bars and restaurants in the area opened early to take advantage of the holiday.
In subsequent years State Patty's Day has been scheduled for the weekend after THON, giving the event a standardized date. As of 2014, it has persisted as an annual event, attracting more tourism to downtown State College than Saint Patrick's Day itself.
State Patty's Day made its debut in early 2007 after a handful of students realized that the school's spring break would conflict with St. Patrick's Day. Utilizing Facebook, they created a group entitled "The Official Group to Move St. Patrick's Day." Their hope was to unify the student body in early celebration. With an excess of over 4,600 members in 2008, along with an effort to get bars in downtown State College involved, the group was successful in moving the holiday to Friday March 2, a day that has been dubbed as State Patty's Day. Currently, the State Patty's Day Event Page has grown to nearly 12,000 followers.
The holiday has grown to such an extent that it attracts a significant number of out-of-town visitors; in 2011, nearly 60% of arrests were for visitors. In 2012, the number reported was just under 20%; this significant drop has been attributed to a misquoted statistic. Other sources state that nearly 80% of the arrests were of visitors.
Magisterial District Judge Carmine Prestia, who serves as president of the Centre County magisterial district judges, has instituted a policy whereby alternative adjudications, resulting in dismissal of summary offense charges, are not available for offenses occurring during State Patty's Day weekend. The effort was made in an attempt to discourage illegal activities and to try to make the event seem less appealing to out-of-town attendees.
In 2013, after seeing the event continue to grow in size and popularity, the Borough of State College and Penn State University attempted to squash the notorious holiday by offering a $5,000 subsidy to all alcohol-serving establishments in the downtown area, in exchange for closing their doors or ceasing alcohol sales on the day of the event. In total, $170,000 of revenue from parking fees earned from previous State Patty's days was spent to keep establishments from selling alcohol on the day of the event.
The previous two years, State College Borough had issued a "State Patty's Day After Action Report" outlining the financial impact of the event. Both reports showed that the weekend was extremely busy but, over-all wasn't all that different from weekends when Penn State Football held home games. The reports also showed that the net result from the event for both years yielded an excess revenue of $15,144 & $14,479.25 after all expenses. The After Action Report for the year in which the $170,000 was spent was either not conducted or not released.
Mixed local feedback
Initially, bars in downtown State College opened early and welcomed revelers; however, each year has seen a decrease in the number of bars willing to stay open, as local governance has asked them to cut back due to the nuisance it creates on town resources and local law enforcement. The test of time however, has shown that the approach was counter-productive, because it took an event that was largely centered in bars with trained staff and a controlled environment, and driven it "underground" into apartments and fraternities, where there is little to no controls on alcohol consumption or behavior.
In February 2013, just weeks before the event, a committee of university, community, and student leaders created an agreement with three dozen restaurant and beer shops in the area to halt alcohol sales during the drinking holiday. In exchange each business was to receive a $5,000 subsidy to account for lost revenue. Many bar owners had voiced criticism that they had felt "extreme pressure" to close their doors and accept the terms of the deal. Although the subsidy was intended to off-set the financial loss as a result of the closures, the loss of revenue for the employees of the establishments went unaddressed, leaving upwards of 200 bar & restaurant employees without work on what would otherwise be a busy and lucrative Saturday night.
In an apparent lack of support, the State College Tavern Owners Association preemptively elected to reject any proposals made from the University or Borough of State College for the 2014 incarnation of State Patty's Day that would close their businesses. Accordingly, at the UPUA meeting on Jan. 22nd, the motions that were proposed to adopt the University's stance on State Patty's day were amended to reflect the lack of unity on the subject.
Local business owners have expressed displeasure with the message that was sent when the bars of the downtown area were paid to stay closed in 2013, due to the fact that the public perception was that the entire downtown was effectively closed. The financial impact of the University / Borough's decisions have not been effectively researched by either party, but the consensus among business owners is that the impact of the adopted approach to temper the event was more hurtful than it was effective in controlling the event itself.
The Future of State Patty's Day
Mostly due to the attention attracted by the unorthodox and controversial approach taken by the Borough of State College and University, there has been more community interest in the treatment of the event in the future. There are still many differing voices on what the future of the event should be. There are those who feel as though the event should be met with force in order to end the drinking holiday, but others feel as though the publicity and notoriety should be harnessed and given purpose in order to try and retain the massive revenue and minimize problems, while integrating State Patty's Day into the repertoire of "sanctioned" State College community events.
- Spolar, Matthew. "State Patty's rocks valley." The Daily Collegian. 5 Mar. 2007. 11 Mar. 2008
- "State Patty's Day set for tomorrow". The Daily Collegian. March 12, 2007.
- "Tell friends to stay home for State Patty's Day". The Daily Collegian. February 23, 2012.
- "Police report fewer incidents during State Patty's day". The Centre Daily Times. February 27, 2012.
- State Patty's Day After Action Report - 2011
- State Patty's Day After Action Report - 2012
- "Police: Arrests down for Penn State's 'State Patty's Day'". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. February 27, 2012.
- "Penn State Town Limits Booze on State Patty's Day". Associated Press. February 20, 2013.
- "No Joint Agreement Met for State Patty’s Day Bar Closures". Onward State. January 23, 2014.