Penn State Pays Local Bars Not to Serve Booze
The school hopes to reduce "State Patty's Day" chaos by keeping bars dry for the weekend.
This year, Penn State authorities are using good old fashioned bribery to combat the drunken debauchery of "State Patty's Day"—a made-up holiday that resulted in 222 criminal arrests last year. “These 36 hours, which go from 6 pm Friday to 6 am Sunday, are our busiest 36 hours of criminal activity for the year,” says State College police Chief Tom King. “That's busier than home football game weekends.” In anticipation of this year's boozy extravaganza, coming up this weekend, the university is shelling out $5,000 to 34 local bars and restaurants ($170,000 total) to hold off on serving alcohol until Monday. “The $5,000 doesn't come close to covering the profits of that day, but it's worth it,” says bar owner Duke Gastiger. "This abuse of alcohol has become epidemic, and it rears its ugly head on this day in particular." The celebration has grown more popular over the years and now draws hoards of students from out of town. Of last year's arrests—including 52 for underage drinking, 21 for public urination and 14 for drunken driving—most were not even Penn students.
Some local establishments welcome revelers with drink deals and extended hours, but many have already chosen to close their doors in past years to keep out unruly mobs that are reportedly drunk by 10 am. But many students are pretty peeved at the school's decision to keep the town dry this year. The editors of student paper The Daily Collegian argue that the action was too last-minute to prevent throngs of revelers from descending upon the town, and drinking away student liquor stashes in the dorms. “Trying to manage the 'holiday' has resulted in the wrong people shouldering the burden for others’ destructive behavior,” says the paper. “Resident assistants will be under tremendous stress to enforce safety in the dorms.”