With Fake Patty’s Day quickly approaching, some concerns have been raised due to the recent passing of ordinance 6939 by the Manhattan City Commission. This ordinance grants the Riley County Police Department the same power the Manhattan Fire Department has to issue overcrowding citations.
“I don’t even want to be here this weekend,” said Ryan Bramhall, owner of Tubby’s Sports Bar, Fat’s Bar and Grill and Doughboyz Pizza & Pub. “I am absolutely petrified of the harassment we, as bar owners, will receive all weekend for running legitimate businesses.”
This ordinance has sparked a lot of conversation around the entire city of Manhattan. It is a class A ordinance, meaning it pertains to the entire city, not just the Aggieville business district. Even though Bramhall doesn’t even want to be in Aggieville during the event, a different bar owner doesn’t think the ordinance will cause any issues this weekend.
“I am not fearful of what will happen this weekend at all,” said Rusty Wilson, owner of Kite’s Grille and Bar and co-owner of Last Chance Saloon. “I have talked with everyone on the City Commission, some multiple times, and their motive wasn’t to shut down Aggieville. The ordinance won’t affect Aggieville this year because RCPD will have to go through extensive training before they will be able to issue citations. They could use it next year, but not this coming weekend.”
Wilson said the ordinance was passed for the Manhattan Fire Department to get more assistance on larger scale events like Fake Patty’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve.
Ryan Almes, deputy chief of technical services for MFD, said the fire department will be increasing staff for the event this weekend.
“On a normal Friday or Saturday night, we would normally send out four personnel to patrol the Aggieville business district and surrounding areas,” Almes said. “For this coming Friday, we will be sending out two teams of four personnel. And on Saturday, there will be three teams of four personnel. We have increased staffing overall for this event. We also have a more detailed plan for the event, which hasn’t been this detailed in previous years.”
The City Commission passed the ordinance on a 3-2 vote on Feb. 28. Since then, Wilson has offered commissioners the opportunity to come down and work in Kite’s over the weekend, one week before Fake Patty’s Day.
“Jim Sherow [mayor] came down and talked to me and learned how we do security,” Wilson said. “Three out of five commissioners came down at midnight and learned how the entire system works from the inside. We have been assured that the businesses down here are doing what they need to be doing to prevent overcrowding.”
Many people who choose not to partake in Fake Patty’s Day might have a misconception about what actually occurs in Aggieville over the weekend. Tim Fitzgerald, president of the Aggieville Business Association and owner of Powercat Illustrated, decided to open his office in Aggieville for government officials who are coming down for the weekend.
“I am offering my office as a headquarters for City Commissioners and County Commissioners,” Fitzgerald said. “We also sent out invitations to members of the Riley County Police Department Advisory Board and to the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. If they want to walk around and see what is going on, they are more than welcome to do that. But then if they don’t want to sit in a bar, they will be welcome to use my office as a place to relax and observe what is happening outside.”
The majority of the bar owners in Aggieville have pooled together money to buy more than 9,500 bottles of water for the event. A pallet of water will be given to RCPD and two pallets of water will be given to the emergency medical services on staff for the event. All people have to do is walk up to one of the tents offering water and people will be handed a bottle free of charge.
“We don’t oppose the overcrowding issues,” Fitzgerald said. “MFD has worked with us in a professional way and we expect them to be down here. Students and visitors need to respect Aggieville and the surrounding neighborhoods. All we can hope is that it doesn’t get out of hand in the neighborhoods.”