10 things to know about Unofficial St. Patrick's Day
1 Now in its 18th year, Unofficial started as a bar promotion in the 1990s to attract the St. Patrick's Day crowds they typically miss out on because March 17 usually falls on spring break.
2 At least two people who had been celebrating Unofficial have died. In 2011, a 21-year-old man was struck by two vehicles as he tried to cross University Avenue, and he later died of his injuries. In 2006, a 22-year-old woman died of injuries she received after falling off a motorcycle.
3 At a single party in the 00 block of East Chalmers Street last year, police busted 62 people for underage drinking and arrested six people for hosting the party. Altogether, they arrested 21 party hosts last year and plan to do the same today.
4 Champaign Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Don Gerard has issued an emergency order for the entire weekend limiting sales of alcohol at campus bars and convenience stores.
5 University of Illinois officials have acted, too. Among other things, they've prohibited overnight guests in residence halls, sent a letter to students' parents and coordinated a "rethink the drink" marketing campaign.
6 Parking near campus will be a nightmare today. In the past, dozens of illegally parked cars have been towed on Unofficial, and parking enforcement officials will be on the prowl today.
7 Police will be busy. Last year, they dealt with 270 calls on Friday into early Saturday morning — a 600 percent increase from the previous Friday.
8 Area police agencies spent an extra $53,143.03 on Unofficial-related overtime pay for officers in 2013. That includes nearly $17,000 in Champaign and $21,180 for the Illinois State Police.
9 Last year, police issued 210 tickets, mostly for underage drinking and public possession of alcohol. That was down from 310 in 2012.
10 In the past, the party ebbs and flows somewhat with the weather. The National Weather Service is predicting today to be fairly pleasant: mostly sunny with a high near 50 degrees.