The financial impact of Fake Patty’s Day

A Riley County Police Department officer stands in Aggieville during Fake Patty's Day on March 5, 2016. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

Aggieville and the city of Manhattan will turn green on Saturday for the annual Fake Patty’s Day festivities.

The holiday is a greatly anticipated event for not only the townies and students of Manhattan, but also for people from across the region who make the trip to town to participate in the event.

An event as large as Fake Patty’s Day has substantial financial implications for both Aggieville and the city, as well as law enforcement from across the state.

State law enforcement agencies converge on Aggieville

Because of the large influx of people into Aggieville, the need and demand for police officers far exceeds the enforcement capabilities that the Riley County Police Department has on staff, said RCPD public information officer Alexander Robinson.

Since more patrol is needed, RCPD reaches out to other agencies to help police Fake Patty’s Day.

According to the RCPD website, the Junction City Police Department, Emporia Police Department, Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office, Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, Hays Police Department, Geary County Sheriff’s Office, K-State Police Department, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Highway Patrol will help local enforcement patrol the event.

In addition to the listed agencies, Alcohol Beverage Control, Riley County EMS, Emergency Management, the City of Manhattan and the Manhattan Fire Department will also assist in managing Fake Patty’s Day.

Robinson said the RCPD is able to garner the large amount of outside assistance due to the fact it has a good working relationship with the other agencies and typically works with them on large events like Fake Patty’s Day.

However, there are still costs that must be considered, since a lot of the hours the officers work are overtime, Robinson said.

Robinson said the RCPD will pay for its officers, but it does not pay for the officers who are brought in.

“Typically the way it works is that their agency pays them for their overtime,” Robinson said. “But then we will help them out in certain events. If Junction City has something big, we’ll send officers, and then we’ll foot the bill for our officers for their overtime.”

When it comes to paying for RCPD officers to work Fake Patty’s Day, Robinson said the “ballpark number” is somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000 to staff RCPD officers.

Cost of staffing is not the only number that goes up for RCPD, as the number of citations goes up a lot on this day, Robinson said.

In 2016, police issued a total of 596 citations, including 295 citations for possession of an open container of alcohol, 126 citations for parking and 79 citations for possession of alcohol by a minor, among other infractions.

Robinson said the revenue that comes from citation fines goes to the city, and then the city helps fund RCPD’s budget. While it may look like officers give out more citations to make up for the added costs of patrolling Fake Patty’s Day, Robinson said that is not the thought process that RCPD officers have.

“We don’t ever talk about that, think about it, care about it,” Robinson said. “We care about people being safe. If we notice people are being safe, we aren’t going to issue as many citations. If people aren’t being safe, then we’re going to issue more citations. It’s depending on what people are doing and how people are doing it.”

Fake Patty’s a successful weekend for Aggieville businesses

As the weekend festivities attract scores of people from outside the city, Manhattan hotels see an increase in room bookings.

“All the hotels are booked,” Linda Mays, executive director of the Aggieville Business Association, said. “We had some numbers as far as trips last year. I believe there was 127 trips back and forth on a shuttle from Four Points (by Sheraton) over there, back and forth to Aggieville.”

Bars should expect to see a substantial increase in business, but exact numbers for profits over Fake Patty’s Day are not readily available because, as Mays said, bars typically do not disclose those statistics in order to avoid sharing profit information with competing bars.

Even without those numbers, Mays said she believes business goes up slightly at bars due to the sheer amount of people who come to the event.

“The numbers down (in Aggieville), as far as sales and stuff, it’s almost equivalent to a really good Saturday night down here,” Mays said. “It goes up a little, I guess, but not a whole lot like it used to because everything is going to liquor stores because people are having their house parties. It’s a little bit cheaper to party at home than going to the bar.”

Even though both Mays and Robinson said house parties are expected to attract bigger numbers this year, Aggieville bars are still expected to fare well over the weekend.

“Rather than seeing the big influx of people down here, you won’t see that until about 11 p.m.,” Mays said. “It’s very typical to a very normal, busy Saturday night, but a little bit better.”

Fake Patty’s spreads beyond Aggieville

Over the years, Aggieville has become synonymous with the K-State college experience, and many students look forward to the first time they are able to go to bars when they turn 21.

However, Mays said house parties on Fake Patty’s Day are expected to attract large crowds of people, including a mixture of partygoers who are underage and of legal drinking age.

“I am planning on spending my time at both (Aggieville and house parties),” Miguel Flores, senior in social studies education, said. “I will be spending the first part of the day at houses and stuff, and then, probably later in the night, go to Aggieville.”

Flores noted the main reason he is choosing to spend the first part of the day at house parties is because he does not want to pay for drinks all day in Aggieville. Instead, he could make a trip to the liquor store and “have enough to drink” for a much cheaper price.

Flores also said that because of how last year’s Fake Patty’s celebration went, he plans to keep himself to a spending limit at the bars.

“Last year, I spent over $100 in Aggieville,” Flores said. “So, I’m at least planning on keeping it under that.”