No serious injuries reported on Unofficial

Kilani+Gaston%2C+a+junior%2C+hugs+her+friend+Jayla+Lewis+at+the+corner+of+Green+and+Wright+during+Unofficial+on+Friday.+Lewis+was+offering+free+food+samples+from+Panda+Express+during+the+day.+%C2%A0

Kilani Gaston, a junior, hugs her friend Jayla Lewis at the corner of Green and Wright during Unofficial on Friday. Lewis was offering free food samples from Panda Express during the day.  

Despite fears of past tragedies and increased participation because of warmer weather, no serious injuries were reported during the 18th annual Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day weekend, said Champaign Police Lt. Jim Clark.

“I don’t want to say I’m pleased with Unofficial because we’re never pleased with Unofficial, but we are pleased with the way the students behaved,” Clark said. “It seems like they got the messages we put out.”

Between the Champaign, Urbana and University police departments, 271 notices to appear were issued — Champaign issued 238, Urbana issued 21 and University police issued 12. Of those notices to appear, 115 were issued for minor in possession and 100 for public possession, according to Rene Dunn, spokeswoman for the Champaign Police Department.

Additionally, 15 offenders were taken to the Champaign County Jail. This year, police saw fewer arrests made for the social host violations than in previous years, which is when someone hosts a party and serves alcohol to individuals under 21, Clark said.

Clark said more small parties were held over the weekend and the department did not see any “large, unruly” parties this year. He said he believes the extensive campaign efforts to raise awareness of the dangerous effects of drinking could have played a part in the outcome of the weekend.

“That was our goal: trying to push out the educational campaign to so many different venues through the University,” he said. “I hope it had some effect.”

In Urbana, 21 notices to appear were issued for incidents ranging from loud music to underage drinking with fines between $165 to $325, said Urbana South Patrol Commander Robert Fitzgerald, noting that Unofficial is “more of a Champaign thing.”

“It was pretty quiet on our side,” Fitzgerald said. “The only problems we had were people walking back and forth from parties who had open alcohol. We didn’t have too many problems in Urbana this year.”

Although 10 more citations were given in Urbana this year than in 2013, Fitzgerald said Unofficial activity has decreased since the mid-2000s when Urbana police officers used to write 40 to 50 notices to appear.

He said many students go to bars on Unofficial, but Canopy Club in Urbana “hasn’t been a huge supporter of Unofficial.”

“It went really well this year,” Fitzgerald said. “More people were in control of themselves. We didn’t have any major injury or death, which is a good thing.”

Carle Foundation Hospital spokeswoman Kelli Anderson said in an email that historically, the hospital has not seen a spike in patient volumes during Unofficial weekend.

PRO Ambulance Service, of Presence Covenant Medical Center, had 40 calls and 27 transports, and Carle Arrow Ambulance Services had one transport. Carle hospital saw 17 walk-ins seeking medical attention, Dunn said.  

Though the results of Unofficial weekend were better than expected, Clark is not looking forward to next year’s event.

“No, I’m not ready for next year’s Unofficial,” Clark laughed. “I don’t even want to think about Unofficial for a while.”

Brittney and Miranda can be reached at [email protected]