State’s dry day welcome

State College is taking a proactive approach to State Patty’s Day: It’s shutting off the taps.

A cooperative effort between borough leadership, downtown merchants, Penn State and concerned students formed “The Partnership: Campus and Community United Against Dangerous Drinking,” and a plan announced Tuesday confirmed 34 businesses will not serve alcohol Saturday.

A total of $170,000 – $5,000 to each participating establishment – was raised to combat what amounted to a student drinking convention that began in 2007 when St. Patrick’s Day fell during spring break, thus apparently denying the students a chance to celebrate.

So they created their own holiday, and it quickly took on a life of its own as the opportunity was seized by students from other schools to converge on State College and carry on in unbecoming ways.

Reports said many were drunk before 10 a.m. on State Patty’s Day.

“These 36 hours, which go from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday, are our busiest 36 hours of criminal activity for the year,” State College Police Chief Tom King said in a news release. “That’s busier than home football game weekends.”

Police made 222 criminal arrests on State Patty’s Day weekend in 2012, including 52 for underage drinking, 21 for public urination and 14 for drunken driving, according to the department. The majority arrested were visiting students.

“The $5,000 doesn’t come close to covering the profits of that day, but it’s worth it,” owner Duke Gastiger, owner of the popular Rathskeller, told the Allentown Morning Call. “This brings State College a black eye. This abuse of alcohol has become epidemic, and it rears its ugly head on this day in particular.”

The partnership’s decision helps guard against this binge mentality and, we hope, will attempt to protect the students from themselves.

Of course, without beer and liquor available downtown, students likely will be drinking in their apartments. If so, here’s hoping they use good judgment and don’t drink and drive.

About $155,000 used for the payments to the 34 establishments comes from parking fees from previous State Patty’s weekends, said Damon Sims, the university’s vice president for student affairs. The rest comes from State College and Penn State.

Thanks to Jerry Sandusky, State College has had enough bad publicity over the past 15 months. It doesn’t need more because students decided to create a holiday dedicated to John Belushi and Animal House.

We credit State College for stepping in before State Patty’s Day becomes more of a tradition than it already is.