“IUPatty’s” weekend caught Indiana borough police by surprise in 2013, something police say they are working hard to prevent this year.
“We were blindsided by the activity,” said Indiana Borough Police Chief and Borough Manager William Sutton.
IUPatty’s, which will take place this weekend, is IUP students’ unofficial drinking holiday of St. Patrick’s Day, similar to Penn State’s “State Patty’s Day.”
IUP students have participated in the mock holiday for the past few years, but 2013 was the first year that the borough saw any real problems, Sutton said.
He said the borough is planning for crowds by bringing in extra enforcement this year.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in IUP students participating in IUPatty’s, as well as students from Penn State and other universities migrating to IUP for the weekend, said Samuel Clutter, IUP’s director of public safety.
Both Sutton and Clutter would not provide exact numbers for how many officers will be brought in, but Clutter said it would be a “noticeable increase.”
The biggest concern for this year’s IUPatty’s celebration is the gathering of large groups in small, condensed areas, Sutton said.
“Unfortunately, events like this can have a negative effect on the borough,” he said, “but I don’t think that they are intended to.”
Sutton said the goal of the increased enforcement is not to arrest everyone.
“If I spend all of my time arresting every drunk student I see, I won’t have any time left to protect those students,” Sutton said.
Although borough police have had Indiana residents complain about the St. Patrick’s Day activities in previous years, the decision to increase the police presence was not based solely on those complaints, Sutton said.
This year, 34 of 35 bars and restaurants in State College agreed not to sell alcohol Saturday, March 1, because of State Patty’s Day, according to a Feb. 27 University Herald article.
But Sutton said the bars are not the problem.
“There are plenty of places to get beer,” Sutton said. “The main problems lie in the house parties that crowd or block the streets. Closing the bars isn’t going to solve that.”
However, because IUPatty’s is still a relatively new holiday in the Indiana area, Sutton said that asking the bars to close is still a question to consider.
According to Mark Richards, Indiana Regional Medical Center’s marketing and public relations director, IUPatty’s also brings with it an increase in student emergency-room visits.
“Both weekends [Homecoming and IUPatty’s] typically result in more students in the ER,” Richards said in an email interview. “The obvious advice is to be responsible, enjoy yourself, but use moderation.”