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State Patty's Day set for tomorrow

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Posted: Friday, February 29, 2008 12:00 am

Despite a continued lack of university support, the students organizing State Patty's Day say the event will still kick off for the second year tomorrow, with some bars pledging support.

Last year, nearly 4,600 students joined a Facebook.com group that proposed to hold St. Patrick's Day celebrations on March 2 because students would be on spring break during the official calendar holiday of March 17. The event was met with fierce opposition from university and State College officials.

This year, student advocacy group Safeguard Old State (SOS), which announced plans Jan. 20 to hold the holiday on March 1, supports the student-created holiday. The group planned to form a coordinating committee for the event and encouraged local bars to open early, but also tried to partner with LateNight Penn State to host non-alcoholic activities.

However, SOS was not able to secure programming with LateNight Penn State, and the group has not formed a coordinating committee, SOS Executive Director Gavin Keirans, said.

"I think the most disappointing thing was that we weren't able to bring anything in to LateNight," Keirans said.

University officials also have not lent their support to the holiday.

"What they announced was that they wanted to create a drinking holiday, and they went through the university for a blessing, and a lot of people think that was a pretty dumb idea," Assistant Vice President for University Relations Bill Mahon said yesterday. "There is nothing specific we will do for this silly idea this weekend."

Keirans said the group plans to distribute safe-drinking materials in the HUB-Robeson Center tomorrow.

Simon Holowatz, community health educator at University Health Services, cautioned students against heavy drinking.

"If it's a day to celebrate and have fun, well, you can do that without drinking," he said.

The Phyrst, 111 1/2 E. Beaver Ave., will host bands all day starting at 9 a.m., general manager Mike Fullington said.

Although Penn State President Graham Spanier's band, the Phyrst Phamily, is booked to play at The Phyrst tomorrow. However, Spanier will not participate because he will be out of town this weekend, said Tom Poole, associate to the president for administration.

Tony Sapia, owner of Tony's Big Easy Bar and Bistro, 129 S. Pugh St., said his establishment will open at 11 a.m., which is when the bar usually opens on Saturdays.

"There's going to be complimentary corned beef and cabbage," Sapia said, adding that no events are planned.

Although downtown bars have been reluctant to voice commitment to the event, opening the bars early for State Patty's Day "is more accepted this year," SOS Student Relations Director Joe Veltre said.

SOS has sold 693 State Patty's Day T-shirts online, Veltre said, and the event's Facebook group has nearly 400 members more than last year's group had. T-shirts ordered online were distributed yesterday at Rita's Water Ice, 119 E. Beaver Ave. They will also be distributed today at the Cell Block, 420 E. College Ave.

Graham Pugh (junior-real estate, business, and socioeconomic development), who started an alternate Facebook group to hold State Patty's Day on March 6, said he is happy the event is happening at all.

"I thought the competition was going to pull away from State Patty's Day," he said.

Chris O'Konski (sophomore-film) said he plans to party early on Saturday.

"I think it's a fantastic idea. The more holidays, the better," he said. "I'm just going to slap on my green shirt and go where the wind takes me."

Veltre said the event is about community and not, necessarily, heavy drinking.

"I still firmly believe it's a day students can kind of unify," he said.

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