Fake Patty’s Day, one of the busiest and most controversial days of the year in Manhattan, came and went in a flurry of excited chatter and street-side parties. What remains in the aftermath of the event is a record number of arrests that the city is still talking about.
“I didn’t visit any bars, I just walked around Aggieville to get the experience,” said David Anderson, junior in mass communications. “I saw a girl completely rear-end someone else with her car. The police went up to her immediately. I just heard, ‘Have you been drinking?’ and then tears. I’m pretty sure that was a DUI.“
Instances like these made up the 115 arrests and 225 open container citations issued over the weekend. Sgt. Brad Ingalls of the Riley County Police Department said that he and other officers patrolled and kept a steady watch over the entire day.
“What we did this time was very similar to last year,” Ingalls said. “Everything ran smoothly. From making sure the officers were efficient, to arrests, to transports.”
Ingalls attributed the new high in arrests to an increased effort to watch the houses near Aggieville and to patrol the streets and the bars. The police were able to do this with some help from their neighbors.
“We had a couple officers come in from Junction City to help,” Ingalls said. “We had the K-State Police here, officers from Pottawatomie County and two or three from Emporia.“
For some Fake Patty’s participants, however, the police force remained under-the-radar.
“I was surprised because I didn’t see as many cops this year,” said Heath Lilek, junior in management. “It could have been because of the rain or people just being more aware of all of the rules, but it seemed a bit calmer this year.”
Lilek, who was underage for the weekend’s festivities, said that he remained inside his apartment for the majority of the day and spent time with friends in an attempt to follow rules and regulations while still having a good time.
“We made sure that there wasn’t underage drinking going on outside and kept the volume level down for the most part so we didn’t have any issues,” Lilek said. “I think it’s a matter of everybody being responsible and holding themselves and the people that they love more accountable. Fake Patty’s is a tradition that we started and it can be a lot of fun, but we have to make sure that we try to follow rules and keep people safe.”
Officers were not the only personnel in high demand during the all-day festivities; 22 requests for emergency medical service were issued between Friday and Sunday in relation to Fake Patty’s Day.
“100 percent of the transports we served had consumed alcohol,” said Joel Reimer, Riley County EMS captain. “The youngest person we treated for high blood alcohol content was 18, and the highest blood alcohol concentration we saw was .441.”
With some patrons consuming alcohol in quantities over five times the legal limit, quick access to Aggieville was a priority.
“We utilized two ATV Gators, and from what I understood, they were able to get to the patient very easily,” Reimer said. “When they’d get a call, within minutes they would be with a patient.”
Despite a spike in the number of arrests and alcohol-related emergencies, Rebecca Woodard, senior in construction science and management, said that she never felt unsafe.
“I felt pretty safe walking through Aggieville and partying at the bars,” she said. “It seemed like people were pretty much under control for most of the day. It did get kind of crazy at night, though, because everyone had been drinking all day at that point. As a woman, I didn’t feel like I was in danger or anything, but I did see a few things that were scary. I saw a guy just clock a girl in the face in the evening.”
Both Lilek and Woodard agreed that although Fake Patty’s Day is often correlated with alcohol-related accidents and damage, participants can avoid putting themselves and others in danger by being responsible and avoiding risky situations.
Woodard also added that the benefits for businesses in the city are too high for the “holiday” to be banned.
“Fake Patty’s is here to stay in my opinion because of the good it does for businesses,” she said. “There are always going to be people being stupid and drunk, but it’s up to us to be responsible. It’s a tradition that brings a lot of good to the town too, so it’s on us to make it safer and a day that all of us can safely have a good time.”