Champaign mayor says 'Unofficial' was relatively calm

CHAMPAIGN — One day after "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" on the University of Illinois campus, Mayor Don Gerard said the infamous event this year was as benign as he could have hoped.

Authorities have said there were a number of medical transports and arrests during the holiday notorious for binge drinking and disorder, but they have not reported any serious injuries or incidents as of Saturday night.

Area fire departments said, relative to past years' Unofficial holidays, Friday was fairly calm.

"I think, every year, if we say it was a little better than last year, we're doing a good job," Gerard said.

He said the efforts of city and university officials and law enforcement agencies was a big help this year. Police took to Facebook and Twitter to deliver a message of caution, and a number of groups went door-to-door on campus last week to distribute information about how students can stay safe.

"I think the messaging really helped," Gerard said. "I don't think I'm alone in this either."

He said he observed high numbers of people returning to their old stomping grounds, too.

"It's become a little bit of an alumni event quite frankly," Gerard said. "Having the older people come back to town isn't such a bad thing because they behave."

This was Gerard's second Unofficial St. Patrick's Day as mayor. As in the past, he used his authority as liquor commissioner to slow the flow of alcohol on campus during the weekend, but he has typically referred to controlling and monitoring the event instead of trying to shut it down completely.

He said reinforcing a message of safety to students is something that should stay in place next year.

"I don't think that adding stricter regulations or throwing rocks at the proverbial hornet's nest is going to help," Gerard said.

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