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Feb. 17—Aggieville is attempting to shut down Fake Patty's Day for good, saying it will no longer promote the "black eye."
With the hassle of controlling crowds for the event, which has drawn tens of thousands to Manhattan in the past, Dennis Cook, executive director of the Aggieville Business Association, told The Mercury that the business association does not find the effort worth it anymore and it will no longer organize events or promotions related to Fake Patty's. He said every business owner he talked with agreed with the decision.
"There's pretty much a general consensus that that's an event that we don't need," Cook said. "We can be fairly secure that's probably never coming back. ... It's just a black eye we just can't get away from. That was a great event in the beginning and then it had some issues. These things all just have run their course. It's time to let that one go."
While public health concerns stemming from the coronavirus pandemic played a part in this year's decision, Cook said overall attendees in the unofficial drinking holiday has been on the decline for years.
Cook spoke about the decision Tuesday during a Riley County Law Enforcement Agency Board meeting.
Since its inception in 2007, Fake Patty's has provided an annual opportunity for people, mainly college students, to celebrate St. Patrick's Day (and the partying associated with it) before they left for spring break. Organizers canceled the event last year because of the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is not an event created by the Aggieville Business Association or the city government, but bars often participated by having special promotions and hours that day. Over the years, house parties grew in popularity, spreading partiers out in surrounding neighborhoods.
Some locals have criticized the event for its seeming encouragement of excessive drinking and related crime spikes in the area. Each year, the Riley County Police Department has had to call in back-up from several law enforcement agencies, resulting in increased costs in overtime hours, to handle the weekend-long festivities.
Even with the associated business revenue from the crowds, Cook said in recent years businesses may have been losing money as participation declined.
"The last couple of years when we did have it, it wasn't as near as impactful," Cook said. "At this point, it's just better to do normal business. ... (Fake Patty's) was on a four- or five-year decline anyhow. This is just something that nobody is pushing back on."
Cook and RCPD officials acknowledged at the board meeting that merely canceling promotions may not stop people from organizing their own parties, but the police department will still be prepared to handle them.
"I know that basically due to COVID times, the situation we're in, and with the university also not having a spring break, it's just not conducive to the natural growth of Fake Patty's Day," said Kurt Moldrup, assistant director of the Riley County Police Department. "... Because of all the circumstances, we fully do not expect it to occur. However, the department, as always with any weekend, we'll be prepared should it spontaneously occur."
Cook said it's possible that one or two businesses could declare in the future they're hosting Fake Patty's Day events, but it wouldn't rise to the same level as when the business association is involved.
"If we don't close the streets, bring in porta potties, start unusually early, etc., then it is just not an event," he said.