The community prepares for Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day

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CHAMPAIGN- URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — “Unofficial” St. Patrick’s Day was once the biggest drinking day of the year.

The holiday was founded by Campustown bar owner Scott Cochrane 25 years ago.

It takes place the weekend before students at the University of Illinois leave for Spring Break.

The festivities often got out of hand. There were even a few instances that led to the death of a party-goer.

University of Illinois Police Communications Director Patrick Wade said that Unofficial reached its peak 10-15 years ago. Over the last few years, interest in the event has dwindled.

Now, with pandemic regulations in place, leaders at the U of I and law enforcement officers agree that they expect this year’s Unofficial to be much calmer and quieter than in previous years.

However, Wade said that police departments are still planning to take all of the necessary precautions. “There will be a police presence in the area. The University is also taking some steps to tone down the activity a little bit, like we’ve been doing for the past few years. We’re expecting the downward trend to continue.”

He also said that the University of Illinois’ Party Patrol student-volunteers will also be out this weekend to make sure that anyone participating in the event is following all Covid-19 guidelines.

Wade emphasized that they want students and community members to enjoy themselves, but to do so in a way that is safe and respectful of themselves and others.

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