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Memories Of State Patty’s Day In Its Prime

Growing up 70 miles north of State College in a small town, Penn State always seemed like a magical fantasy land of football and fun. When I got to high school, I began traveling to Happy Valley on weekends for drinking excursions. I fell in love with the “culture.”

In 2008, word of State Patty’s Day reached my small town. Upon learning that Penn State students created their own drinking holiday in protest of Graham Spanier scheduling spring break over St. Patrick’s Day, I did everything I possibly could to participate.

A year later at 17, I finally got my wish when an old friend let us crash on his floor at Beaver Hill. I spent my first State Patty’s traveling from party to party, drinking watered-down beer, and unsuccessfully hitting on college girls. After a day and night of acting absurdly irresponsible, I passed out underneath a coffee table on a beer soaked and ash covered rug, using nothing but a balled up towel as a pillow.

No State Patty’s Day since has lived up to my first.

When I finally became a Penn State student, the magic of the holiday withered away. Creating a day of drunken chaos in a place where you live and know people was difficult. I did not want to act reckless because of the implications it could have on my personal and professional life. Every year I got older, I became more ashamed of my drunken buffoonery. It eventually occurred to me that urinating on doors and picking fights with strangers in McDonald’s was not going to benefit me in the long run.

During a brief affair with responsibility, I opted not to attend 2011’s State Patty’s Day. The next year I attended and found the holiday was taken over by non-Penn Staters. Students from IUP, Lock Haven, Shippensburg, Bloomsburg, and other colleges were flooding the streets and wreaking havoc. High school students from the surrounding areas had also taken it upon themselves to join the holiday. I was upset these young punks felt they were a part of our holiday. Sure, I was once a high school tourist to Happy Valley and in reality had no right to be upset, but I needed an outlet for my displaced anger.

State Patty’s Day 2012 was ripe with disappointment but I suppose the day is what you make out of it. I preferred other drinking holidays like Arts Fest or any home football game. Plus, the best days I’ve had at State College were never planned. They would always happen on a random weekday night, when everyone in the apartment collectively decided to skip class the next day and spend the night inebriated. And in the morning, we all have breakfast and reflect on the limited job prospects that await us on the other side of graduation.

This Saturday, I return to State Patty’s for the first time in 4 years. As an old man at the ripe age of 24, I’d like to think I’m above it now. Deep down inside I know I’m not. I fear this holiday will awaken a drunken beast that has been lurking inside me all semester. Upon being unleashed, this boisterous sot will ruin everything I built in the last four years. I worked hard to get back into Penn State, after I left under unfortunate drunken-broken-foot circumstances (you know how that is). I don’t want to screw it up again.

Though chances are, someone will goad me into drinking by doubting my ability. I will accept said challenge, afraid of looking like a dweeb who can’t drink. And by the next morning, I will be a shame soaked bum, working to restore whatever I ruined the night before.

About the Author

Mario Di Paolo

Mario Di Paolo is a contributor to Onward State. Originally from Montoursville Pennsylvania, Mario is seeking a bachelors degree in Print Journalism and hopes to finish by 2017. As a devoted lover of cinema, Mario can often be found alone in his apartment watching pretentious films he pretends to understand.

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Staff Picks: Grabbing A Drink With A Prominent Penn Stater

If you had the chance to hear about Penn State from (or throw down at a State College bar for a night with) some of its most prominent figures, who would you want to grab a beer with?

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