It doesn’t get much cruder and crasser around these parts than St. Patrick’s Day in Westport…
With the possible exception of Fake St. Patty’s Day in Manhattan. More on that in a minute.
But here in KC, drunken dudes in green and bar owners revere the Green Day madness. However having worked in Westport for several years, I can tell you it’s one sick puppy that many non booze-based businesses avoid by closing that day to escape streets and sidewalks beset with wiped out women and messed up men publically puddled in greenish fluids and gosh knows what else.
Truth be told, for those who hold their Irishness dear – my mother’s maiden name was O’Callahan – it’s a one day black eye for the Mother Country that lasts about a year…until next St. Patrick’s Day.
Which brings us to the K-State party headquarters known as Aggieville in beautiful downtown Manhattan.
A handful of years back K-State robbed Aggieville of its student population for St. Patrick’s Day by including the holiday in the school’s spring break. So bummed out bar owners got together in 2007 to launch Fake St. Patty’s Day.
Check the Wikipedia:
"The Fake Patty’s Day celebration was started by bar proprietors’ who wanted students to celebrate together in Manhattan rather than miss their patronage during the real St. Patty’s holiday while the students were elsewhere on vacation over spring break. Recently, the Fake Patty’s Day celebration has attracted increasing debate following the community’s disapproval resulting from of the prevalence of criminal offenses associated with the event, such as underage drinking, assaults and batteries, public urination, noise complaints, driving under the influence, littering, amongst other resulting nuisances."
Fake St. Patty’s Day is like Westport’s real one only arguably worse.
Because while Westport targets the 21 and up crowd, Aggieville goes mostly after underage drinkers – K-State students – most of whom are are freshman, sophomores and juniors likely to be under the legal drinking age.
Which explains why the City Fathers have been fighting it all these years.
"The Manhattan City Council has been presented with a number of proposed city ordinances aimed at controlling the event but none have passed due to public debate, objections from the local tavern owners, and legal questions associated with such action," Wikipedia adds.
That is until this year’s Fake St. Patty’s this past Saturday.
"Despite property damage, rising arrests and public outcry, the City and law enforcement officials have had few viable options over the years with regards to curbing or even shutting down Fake Patty’s as no one group, bar or organization has taken ownership of the event," Manhattan alt weekly Hype reports. "Thus, in years past the Aggieville Business Association, City of Manhattan and Riley County only had the power to attempt to cleanup, manage and police an event growing in number of participants and effect upon life in the City.
"What’s new is that the Aggieville Business Association has decided to promote the safety and general well-being of the community by becoming officially involved with the event!" Hype adds. "They’re not promoting the binge drinking and green puke that the media focuses on, but acknowledging that the businesses in Aggieville that profit from this event need to accept the responsibility that the thousands who flock to FPD won’t."
To that end, they bought insurance, blocked off streets, loaded up with cops, brought in food vendors, portapotties, trash recepticles, cleanup crews, hotel shuttles and support staff to attempt to civilize this year’s wilding.
How bad was it? Check out K-State anthropology student CNH‘s blog about last year’s Fake St. P’s:
"Fake Patty’s Day – the Manhattan, Kansas twist on the traditional Irish holiday went off with a bang yesterday," he begins. "And I mean that literally, for I awoke to the sounds of car doors slamming and people yelling outside my window and my upstairs neighbor collapsing. Startled out of my slumber, my initial reaction was fire? Shooting? Massive car pile-up? Explosion? I jumped out of bed before remembering it was Fake Patty’s Day… promptly climbed back in bed and curled up under the covers as if that would make the racket stop.
"It has become an all day, green smeared, drinking fest. Officially beginning at 8am on Saturday, some students get up to pre-drink by 6 and it continues to the wee hours of the ‘morn. Last year the bars ran out of liquor. An impressive feat considering there are something like 40 bars in an area the size of a city block. The main road is blocked off and drunken leprechauns pour forth from all directions."
To cover increased costs this year, a controversial cover charge of $3 to $10 was implemented by bars.
"The students and patrons need to understand that they have to ‘pay to play’ and accept that if they’re going to help trash Aggieville…then they need to be willing to help the businesses cover the expense of cleanup, safety and management of it," Hype reports.
And this just in… it looks like the civilizing of Fake St. Patty’s worked all too well.
A blogger who goes by samizdat was astonished at how civilized and devoid of fun Saturday’s Fake St. Patty’s was.
"The thing is that I walked around with a camera and I had real trouble finding the usual sort of spectacle, like I’d’ve stumbled across in years prior," samizdat blogs. "The whole ambience was more like cordial festivity than wanton drunken revelry. I felt like I was strutting through Disneyland. Next year there should be an official mascot, and a gift shop selling action figures."
And where police at last year’s Fake St. Patty’s issued more citations than any other single day in the past three years – with a 65 percent increase in calls for service from the year before – television station WIBW’s headline for this year’s fest reads as follows:
"No Major Incidents During Fake Patty’s Day"