UPDATE: Hayrides Move to Church Camp Site

The future of hayrides at Penn State has been determined, at least for the time being.

Starting tomorrow, hayrides through the popular Nittany Mountain Trail Rides will no longer take place at the usual site in Warriors Mark Township. Instead, all hayrides will now be hosted 21 miles from campus at the religious campsite Hartman Center in Milroy.

“We have found a church camp that is willing to host non-alcoholic hayrides,” R.B. Powell, owner of Nittany Mountain Trail Rides said. “We’re moving out to a property where we’ll have better control over the drinking situation. It’s going to be run in complete compliance with the alcohol consumption laws. That makes us feel a whole lot better about what we’re trying to do. The other situation had too many loopholes in it.”

Adult groups on professional or recreational outings are permitted to bring alcohol along for their hayrides, but even if they’re over 21, he doesn’t want undergraduate students to come bearing booze. The Nittany Mountain Trail Rides staff, along with the staff at the Hartman Center, will check students for alcohol upon arrival and watch them closely throughout the night to make sure they aren’t sneaking sips of something stronger than the free apple cider. Powell hopes that moving the hayrides to a religious site and reenforcing to every organization that they are strictly nonalcoholic events will weed out the organizations who are solely looking for a night of getting wasted in the hay.

“Some people who have found out that we’re running non-alcoholic hayrides have canceled because apparently their attendance was based on their ability to consume alcohol,” Powell said. “That’s very telling about those groups. Maybe they should change their name to ‘Such-and-Such Drinking Club’ instead of ‘Such-and-Such Philanthropy.’ Some groups, as soon as you tell them they can’t drink, they want to cancel. That’s very indicative of the problem… We aren’t sure what the end result is going to be, but we’re going to try it. We feel very good about it. It’s a better controlled situation.”

When asked if he thought Nittany Mountain Trail Rides would lose popularity among Penn State students based on this decision, Powell said it’s hard to tell, but he doesn’t seem to be concerned about losing business.

“We have more groups wanting hayrides than we can handle,” he said. “We have probably 50 groups that we are not able to fit into our schedule this year. We can afford to downsize and increase the enjoyment of our business.”

This news comes after a decision last Friday to cancel upcoming hayrides following a series of alcohol-related incidents. In one Thursday night, four ambulances were called to transport students to the hospital for alcohol-related incidents, and the police were contacted on four occasions to help contain the overly intoxicated students, some of whom became violent. Powell canceled all hayrides over the weekend until he and his staff could decide how to proceed.

On Monday morning, Powell told us that hayrides would be canceled through Wednesday of this week as he was considering hiring an outside security firm to handle student groups at his hayride site. Apparently, Powell opted against that option and decided the location is the bigger cause of the problem.

So if you and your organization, club, or group of friends have a hayride planned between now and the end of the season, proceed with caution.

“We are making a stand against this alcohol problem,” Powell concluded. “If we can change the culture of binge-drinking among undergraduate, it will be worth every dollar it costs us.”

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Alicia Thomas

Alicia is a senior with majors in Print Journalism and Spanish and a minor in International Studies. Chances are that she's somewhere talking about her semester abroad or ranting about sexual assault prevention right now. She can be reached via Twitter (@aliciarthomas) or email ([email protected]).

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