Police don’t expect a wild Unofficial weekend
CHAMPAIGN – There will not be an increased police presence for Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day this weekend in Champaign, according to University of Illinois police.
Unofficial St. Patrick's Day, or Unofficial, began in 1995 as a bar promotion to make up for the money lost while students are on spring break during St. Patrick’s Day.
The weekend has a history of arrests, sexual assaults, hospitalizations and deaths related to drinking.
University police spokesman Patrick Wade said the tradition has been declining due to an increase in police presence.
He said the event had been getting out of control.
“There were over 100 cops out on the streets on the day of Unofficial writing tickets for drinking, addressing other problematic behavior, things like that,” Wade said. “The goal was, with that, to make it not fun anymore.”
In recent years, Wade said drinking-related calls to police on Unofficial weekend have significantly decreased.
Among the causes for the decrease, he said, was COVID-19
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was kind of on its way out,” Wade said. “And then I'd say the pandemic, just with students not being on campus, that was the final nail in the coffin.”
Wade said even though there will be a decreased police presence, he does not think Unofficial will return to its former height.
“It’s nothing compared to what it used to be, and that’s a good thing, because we don’t want to be seeing those problematic behaviors that we were seeing where people were getting hurt or worse,” Wade said.