Unofficial St. Pat's rules expected soon; 'not dissimilar' from past years

Unofficial St. Pat's rules expected soon; 'not dissimilar' from past years

Blog PhotoCity rules for Unofficial St. Patrick's Day will be issued soon, says Champaign Mayor Don Gerard, who also acts as liquor commissioner.

If you live or work on campus, mark your calendar: swarms of drunken students clad in green will commandeer campus on March 2.

"We may tweak a few things," Gerard said, but for the most part, the restrictions are "not dissimilar" from what the city has done in the past.

"If anything, campus bar owners might be a bit miffed that it's stricter in some ways," Gerard said.

The mayor has the authority to issue "emergency" regulations that are stricter than the standard city code to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents. In the past, that has included limits on the volume of package liquor that stores can sell and a requirement that customers sign an "adult responsibility form" if they buy a certain amount.

Most notably, bars have been prohibited from allowing entry to anyone under the age of 21 (in Champaign, city code would otherwise allow 19-year-olds to enter bars). The liquor commissioner can also limit how many and what kind of drinks a bartender can sell.

What will make this year different is that this is Gerard's first Unofficial St. Patrick's Day as mayor and liquor commissioner, and the Champaign police sergeant who has been in charge of coordinating the city's response, Sgt. Scott Friedlein, is now retired.

Gerard said he has been working with a large committee to organize the response across Champaign, Urbana and campus. The groups have been reaching out to students more than in years past, "kind of sharing the message in terms of what the ramifications are," he said.

The official announcement of the Unofficial St. Patrick's Day rules should come within the next several days, he said.

"If it's going to happen, we want to keep everyone safe," Gerard said.

Photo by Heather Coit/The News-Gazette: Unofficial St. Patrick's Day celebrants on skateboards balance their beverages before heading off on March 4, 2011.

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