Hay, Listen: New Hayride Rules for 2014

Last year, the Penn State community thought it had lost a time-honored tradition: getting drunk on bales of hay.

After numerous incidents, including multiple ambulance calls in one night as well as a student getting lost in the woods, Nittany Mountain Trail Rides canceled several nights of scheduled hayrides. Nobody knew what would happen this year. We lived in fear of the day that we’d find out that the rumors were true, and that our precious hayrides were gone forever.

Thanks to official documents provided by Nittany Mountain Trail Rides, we can breathe easy, because hayrides are back, with some big bold print about alcohol regulations.

The section titled “Hayride Alcohol Usage Warning and Recommendations” is probably the most important:

We are very concerned that groups will ‘pre-game’ the hayride and we will be carefully screening groups as they board the buses or arrive at the farm. Backpacks, bottles, flasks, cans, or any containers of alcohol are not permitted on the buses or the hay wagons.

We have discussed the guidelines with officers of the IF Council and Pan Hellenic Councils, advisors of activity groups, and law enforcement officials. The following positive procedures were suggested and will be in effect.

A committee within each group will monitor the event. We are insisting that all groups be proactive with self-enforcement to ensure a safe and positive experience for all guests and our employees.

We are aware of the University’s policies regarding student events. We are going to honor those concepts, and beer in limited quantities is the only alcohol allowed within these guidelines. Drinking games, contests, funnels, keg stands, or binge consumption is prohibited.

Local and PA State Police are welcome at our events, and they do attend. They may stop the buses, and we support their efforts to control underage and binge drinking. University officials, advisors, and observers are welcome.

Most of the problems start before the hayride because the drinking often starts long before we see the group. Often the alcohol is mixed in lethal concoctions of someone’s creative but naïve understanding of the poisoning effect of the brew. The possible results: sick people wetting and messing their pants and throwing up on the bus and their companions; hard to handle individuals who behave in unpredictable ways; and persons lost in the woods where they fell asleep. You know of or have seen these loss-of-dignity situations. Our security personnel will be diligent to prevent these persons from attending.

The best situation is to advertise and enforce a dry event. Alcohol-free events are the most fun. We have a variety of free non-alcoholic drinks and always enough.

Hayrides and bonfire parties are designed to be fun filled romantic evenings on the farm. The music, the food, the hayride, the bonfires, and the woods are wasted if the guests are in a comprised mental state.

The emphasis on IFC and PanHel being involved is strong, so make sure to be extra vigilant if you’re Greek. The buses and literal hayride portion of the event are the focus here, but the subsequent bonfire seems to be far more open to controlled levels of delinquency. The drinking-based activity section also makes a good point. If, for some reason, you were planning a fireside pong tournament or wanted to see if you could keg stand with one hand while holding a s’more in the other, well, sucks to suck. The typical binge drinking warnings are included here as well.

The funniest part of the thing, however, has to be the third-to-last paragraph. “Creative but naïve understanding of the poisoning effect of the brew” is probably the best way anyone has ever said, “If you drink too much, you’ll get sick and do something stupid.” The possible results it lists, including pissing yourself and passing out in the woods, are also funny, although the latter is also a legitimate danger. DON’T FORGET THAT THERE IS NO CELL PHONE SERVICE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS.

Here’s Trail Rides’ alcohol policy verbatim:

The use of alcohol and drugs is regulated by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The purchase of alcoholic beverages by groups associated with Penn State is regulated by the Penn State University, the Inter-Fraternity Council, and the Pan-Hellenic Council. We comply with the intent and letter of these laws. We, the bus companies, and state laws do not allow any source of alcoholic beverages such as kegs or beer balls or any metal cans or glass bottles to be brought on the buses or on the hay wagons. Do not bring glass or plastic bottles to the hayrides. Persons who appear to be intoxicated or under any drug influence will be escorted from the event and sent home by taxi at their expense.

Alcohol is obviously banned from the buses, since drinking from an open container in a moving vehicle is really, really dumb. But there’s nothing in the policy about the campsite, so if you want to drop off a keg or two of Natty preemptively, have at it, 21-year olds. Just don’t leave your trash there. Keep that in mind.

And here are the rest of the rules and updates to look out for on your organization’s hayride. The information can be found in full here.

  • New location: Forest Pond Lane in Bellefonte is the new home of your autumnal adventure. Classy digs!
  • Hayrides are non-smoking events: This should be obvious, but open flames and dried out fodder grass (that’s what hay is, by the way) are not a good combination. Much like walks on campus will (hopefully) be soon, hayrides are fresh air events.
  • Food and (non-alcoholic) drinks: A surprisingly large amount of people don’t realize that your hayride comes with more than just sitting on logs and listening to the twang of banjo music while inebriated. Your fee includes hamburgers, hot dogs, s’mores, apple cider, hot chocolate, and soda. Use that to your advantage!
  • Beware of walk-ons: Evidently, some people sneak on to hayrides without paying, or so Nittany Mountain Trail Rides says. I don’t know how, but they do. Headcounts should solve that, so be sure to make a list and check it twice.

To recap:

These documents are a lot to digest, but the long and short of it is this: Don’t be an idiot, drink in moderation, don’t drink on a moving vehicle, don’t start drinking competitively, don’t bring anything that could create litter, and respect the campsite. It may be a fun night for you, but it’s a living for these people at Nittany Mountain Trail Rides. Have fun, but be smart. Turn down for the threat of arrest and injury/illness, yo.

We anticipate a renewed enthusiasm for the long tradition of hayrides.

So do we, Nittany Mountain Trail Rides, so do we. Stay safe out there, and have fun, everyone. Remember: It stops being fun when the police show up and someone’s throwing up in the woods.

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About the Author

Noel Purcell

Noel Purcell is Onward State's Features Editor. He's a senior Supply Chain major, but is going to law school at some point in the future and masquerades as a writer for now. He continues to disappoint his ancestors by being a complete Irish stereotype. His email is [email protected] because there were no other Noels before him. His ex-wife got the good half of his bio in the divorce settlement.

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