Local bars, police, businesses agree: Unofficial may be gone for good

Bargoers+wait+in+line+outside+of+KAM%27s+during+Unofficial+on+March+6%2C+2020.+The+COVID-19+pandemic+will+likely+severely+limit+the+activities+surrounding+Unofficial+this+year.

The Daily Illini File Photo

Bargoers wait in line outside of KAM’s during Unofficial on March 6, 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic will likely severely limit the activities surrounding Unofficial this year.

By Aliza Majid, Staff Writer

“Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day,” a March day of partying and binge-drinking at local bars and parties, is a long-standing tradition for University students, though new restrictions have shrunk the event significantly.

The pandemic may be the final straw in putting this event to rest.

“I think a lot of the efforts that have been taken on by the University and the city over the years are what has contributed to sort of this downward trend of an unofficial St. Patrick’s Day,” said Patrick Wade, communication director for University of Illinois Police Department.

Students are still required to abide by the city’s emergency COVID-19 orders set in place that limit social gatherings to 10 or fewer people while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.

The Interfraternity Council has also placed restrictions reiterating the fact that no social events are allowed this semester due to COVID-19, and these restrictions will be heavily monitored during the weekend in order to hold chapters accountable.

“We check houses two to four times a day starting from March 4 going through March 7,” said Reese Bressler, the vice president of public relations at IFC. “We want to make sure that our houses are clear of any social events this weekend because that is the rule from FSA fraternity and sorority affairs, and that is a rule that we echoed to all of our chapters.” 

The UIPD has its own procedure to monitor events during Unofficial. Along with the police presence on campus, as they have done in previous years, the party patrol will also monitor any potential gatherings.

“We’ll have our party patrol active and that’s not really an official thing we’ve been doing that ever since the pandemic began, and that will continue this weekend,” Wade said.

Businesses that profited off Unofficial such as merchandise stores are also struggling due to COVID-19.

“We closed the store permanently this summer due to COVID, so I have no idea what if there are any plans for Unofficial this year,” said a TeShurt representative.

The event’s decline has resulted in bars no longer prioritizing the event as much due to the lack of attendance over the years.

According to Joe’s Brewery, “Unofficial is no longer a thing.” 

According to an email sent from Joe’s Brewery’s official address, Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day is “no longer a thing.” (Aliza Majid)

Overall, students should abide by the COVID-19 protocols this Unofficial season and try to find alternative ways to celebrate the occasion with friends.

“Our community is going to be sticking by the rules this weekend, and we would really like to encourage everyone else to as well,” Bressler said. “If you do witness a policy violation, please fill out the form on the IFC website or contact the University of Illinois police via their non-emergency number.” 

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