Unofficial 2012 hits campus

UPDATED 8 a.m. Saturday 

CHAMPAIGN — Police reported that alcohol and other violations at the Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day celebration on campus were down from   last year's event.

Preliminary numbers released early Saturday put the number of tickets written at 289, down from 364 in 2011.

Officials reported there were 12 medical calls and eight people taken to area hospitals for treatment. 

The number of violations had been down early in the day as rain and cool weather kept some revelers off the streets.

But Champaign police spokeswoman Rene Dunn said violations began to increase in the late afternoon hours.

Meanwhile, Champaign Fire Capt. Dave Ferber, who was doing balcony and occupancy checks at bars with two colleagues, reported no problems with overcrowded balconies, which was an issue a year ago.

“We drive by, count how many kids are on the balcony and take a guess on whether they are over capacity,” Ferber said on Friday night. “We haven’t had any problems on balconies, and I would attribute it to the weather.”

Ferber said firefighters had checked every campus bar at least two or three times prior to 8 p.m.

“There was no problem with occupancy. They were all well below capacity,” Ferber said. “I think there were probably fewer kids in the bars than last year.”

Police reported ticketing 65 minors for possession of alcohol, 33 people for public possession of alcohol, 10 people for adult responsibility, five for the throwing of dangerous materials, three for carrying open liquor out of the premises, two for cannabis possession, one for delivery of alcohol to a minor, one for possession of a keg without a license and one for public urination.

About half of those cited (62 out of 121) said they attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Those ticketed also included students from Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, Missouri, Parkland, UIC, DePaul, Illinois State, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois at Carbondale, Southern Illinois at Edwardsville, Western Michigan, Augustana College, Elgin Community College, Harold Washington College, Illinois Valley Community College, Loras College, Loyola, Luther College, Moraine Valley Community College, Prairie State Community College, St. Xavier University and Triton College.

UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said there were no class disruptions on Friday that she was aware of.

“They may call this Unofficial, but I am officially drunk,” said Jesse Ramer, 22, of Orland Park, as he stumbled out of a bar on Green Street.

Heather Ramsey of Chicago said she has a collection of green T-shirts from the last four Unofficials.

“Sometimes I don’t remember everything I did by the next morning, but at least I have my shirts as a souvenir,” she said.

Lance Davis of Columbia, Mo., said he and his friends were trying to go to as many bars as possible before the night was through. Davis said he had been to six bars by 7 p.m.

“My buddies brought me up here to celebrate my 21st birthday, and this is great,” he said.

Tiffany Jenkins of Normal was wearing a green bead necklace and had a shamrock painted on her face as she danced with her two girlfriends on Sixth Street.

“We learned a new dance tonight,” she said. “I call it the Wiggle.”

On Green Street, UI students Ben Berger of Libertyville and Carli Melman of Huntley were distributing free cups of water to passers-by.
“We’re part of InterVarsity, which is a Christian group,” Berger said. “We’re doing this to show people that we love them and care for them in the midst of the decisions they are making.”

“If Jesus would serve other people where they are at, then we should serve them here,” Melman said.

Nile Hawver, 24, and Chris Sheard, 26, both third-year graduate students in acting, were having a good time performing on the corner of Green and Sixth streets.

Hawver was strumming a mandolin and Sheard a guitar as they crooned English pub songs that had a bit of an Irish lilt in hopes that passers-by would throw change in their guitar case.

“I know about 30 or so traditional ... songs from working at a Renaissance fair,” Hawver said.

Tejas Rawal, 22, of Skokie, was getting cash around noon so that he could make it through the rest of the weekend.

A UI senior in chemistry, he was planning to attend his 1 p.m. class — “I have a 100-point assignment due” — then planned to go to some parties at friends’ homes with his two out-of-town guests from Skokie and Toronto, Canada, before going to bars Friday evening.

Rawal started partying not long after getting up at 7:30 a.m., adding he had a substantial breakfast of scrambled eggs, pancakes and biscuits to sop up his anticipated alcohol consumption.

Fellow seniors Maria Stuckel, Stephanie Roto and Stephani Hensley, all 21-year-old friends who live in the same building, were not as concerned about their classes, admitting they skipped morning sessions.

“It was pouring rain,” Roto said.

Before heading to Joe’s Brewery, their regular watering hole, they too had a substantial breakfast that also included mimosas.

“That’s orange juice and champagne,” Stuckel explained.

The trio said they are veterans of three prior Unofficials and weren’t about to miss their senior year experience.

“Everyone is super nice, happy and giddy,” Stuckel said. “It could be (because they are) drunk.”

Not everyone was so thrilled.

Tne woman who preferred not to give her name was dead sober as she talked with a friend about the ticket she had just received for underage drinking from Illinois State Police Sgt. Bill Emery.

The woman said she had no more than taken her first sip of beer at what she described as a controlled but admittedly crowded party in an apartment on South Third Street than it was busted by police around noon.

The ticket was expected to cost her at least $320, she said.

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