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Six Bars Closed For State Patty’s Day

Update (6:26 p.m.): Cafe 210 West will join the list of bars closing tonight. The bar will close at 7 p.m. after opening for the afternoon, per staff workers.

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Update (6:00 p.m.): The Phryst and Local Whiskey are also closed as of 6 p.m. after opening for the afternoon, per a sign posted outside the bars.

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Update (5:37 p.m.): Chris Rosengrant, owner of the Lion’s Den, says that he will be closing his establishment tonight as well.

“We are officially not opening today,” he says in a statement posted to Facebook. “I just got back from downtown and reached out to some community people and have come to the decision that it is not in our best interest as a business, or as a community member to open. I hope everyone stays safe and acts responsible. The last thing we need is a tragedy at Penn State.”

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In just seven short years of existence, State Patty’s Day has taken a rollercoaster ride from a rallying point of the Penn State student body to a pariah of a celebration.

Even without parking ticket endowment money from Penn State to keep bars closed, the spring quasi-holiday seems to be a long forgotten pastime for local drinking establishments.

In years past, State College watering holes would decorate themselves with shamrocks, sell green beer, and offer specials for the State Patty’s Day celebrations. But now, for the bars that stay open, it’s nothing more than an average Saturday with the typical Saturday specials.

While only two bars, The Brewery and The Shandygaff, opted to close their doors on Saturday, the town appeared to be only slightly busier than usual on the eve of State Patty’s Day. For Brewery owner Ray Rockey, it simply wasn’t worth it to make his establishment a stop along that trek on Saturday.

“It’s just a real messy day and it’s just not worth being open from a liability standpoint,” he says. “It’s a dangerous day all around. I just don’t want to be part of it.”

Rockey says that making sure to avoid a negative contribution to the community pushed the decision over the top for him. He understands that he’s passing up on a highly profitable business day, but Rockey feels that it’s simply too stressful for him and his staff.

“There are just drunken people running around town with no regard for their own safety or the damages that they do to property and the town,” Rockey says. “My worst nightmare would be if someone got hit by a car or fell off a balcony and our town was in the forefront of the news and my establishment was involved in the event.”

He added that St. Patrick’s Day, the actual holiday, used to be a fun and positive day in State College. Rockey hopes that the borough can return to those days and wants to see the “destructive” State Patty’s Day come to an end. Just around the corner, Shandygaff owner Mark Sapia shared a similar sentiment.

Sapia says that he sided with the students when the holiday first began. He disagreed with then-university president Graham Spanier’s decision to move spring break in order to circumvent St. Patrick’s Day, which was raucous the prior year.

“I sided with the students the first year and the second year, spring break was moved back to normal. That’s when I said, ‘You got what you wanted students, now leave it alone,’” Sapia says. “From that year on, I’ve closed every year, with or without the money. I’ve lost many thousands of dollars. It doesn’t bother me. I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

He made sure to add that there’s no ill will toward competitors that chose to stay open for the holiday.

“I just don’t want to be in that fold. I don’t want any part of it. I don’t care if you make millions of dollars off of it,” he says. “I’m a firm believer that if you want to stay open, stay open. If you want to sell your body, sell your body. I’m not the maker. I’m not the good lord to judge you. God bless you, good luck, and make as much money as you can.”

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a StateCollege.com reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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