Sarah Coffman, senior in LAS, Dennielle Monge-Vargas, senior in LAS, and Jillian Butler, senior in Engineering, pose outside of The Red Lion while celebrating Unofficial.
Sarah Coffman, senior in LAS, Dennielle Monge-Vargas, senior in LAS, and Jillian Butler, senior in Engineering, pose outside of The Red Lion while celebrating Unofficial.
Olivia McAfoos

Unofficial 2024: Live updates post-leap day

Friday, 6 p.m.

As the day gradually comes to an end — kids go home, classes are dismissed and most stores prepare to close — for some people, the day’s just started. Herds of individuals gradually show up on Green Street dressed in neon green to celebrate this yearly unofficial holiday — Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

A variety of activities will occur throughout the weekend — including, but not limited to, crawls of bar and apartment varieties. Because of Unofficial, most bars nearby Green Street will also hold special events. 

This provides people who are planning to embark on this annual “Unofficial” tradition with plenty of different and interesting options to choose from. 

“Me and my friends might go to Lion, like one of the bars, or KAMS, or maybe frat parties or apartment parties,” said Anika Bhagavatula, sophomore in LAS. “I am excited, it is a good time.”

Like a majority of people, Bhagavatula dressed up in a neon green outfit along with some green accessories.

“I put temporary green hair dye in my hair and I am wearing a little fun headband and a necklace,” Bhagavatula said. “I like dressing up for the Unofficial. It’s fun.”

The celebration of the Unofficial is also a good opportunity for individuals to spend time having fun and creating special memories with friends. 

“I feel good because it is gonna be fun, and a lot of friends are visiting,” said Riya Patel, senior in AHS. “I think it is a good way for everyone to get together and celebrate this holiday before spring break.”

Though there are not many people dressing up in green or heading to celebrate the Unofficial now, more individuals are expected to be seen walking around on Green Street and beginning the yearly celebration of the Unofficial weekend as the sky starts getting darker later.


[email protected]

Friday, 9 p.m.

Seas of green tees and crewnecks mixed among black leather going-out jackets plague Green Street. Lines at bars are not exceptionally long but are slowly and surely growing by the minute. The night is lively and embodies the start of a college night out. As one passes by the bar lines, the scent of vanilla perfume and cheap alcoholic beverages fills the air. Students run slowly on Green Street, exuding carelessness and a carefree attitude. The traditional weekend of Unofficial has officially begun.  

Before the official tomfoolery and madness occur tomorrow, college students make their way to various bars on campus to fulfill their eagerness for the everlasting University tradition. Many students are hosting at their apartments this year instead of going out, opting for a more controlled and safer option. 

Unofficial is a celebration unique to University students, combining the liveliness of St. Patrick’s Day with the embracement of campus traditions. 

“Yeah, I’m celebrating Unofficial,” said Heather Conti, junior in Media. “I just turned 21, so I’m very excited to celebrate and be around my friends. I think what’s intriguing is just, like, how it brings everybody together, and you’re able to be with all your friends and celebrate the holiday.” 

There was some aspect of green present in every other individual’s outfit walking on Green Street, whether it be a beaded necklace, T-shirt or dad hat. 

“I celebrated last year, so this is my second year celebrating it,” said Salma Omukic, senior in LAS. “Tonight we’re going to go to downtown Champaign to the bars over there. I’ve always loved St. Patrick’s Day, but over spring break we have St. Patrick’s Day back home, so I like celebrating it here otherwise.”

The night is getting darker and the music is getting louder. Unofficial weekend approached in a hurry, and students were even more excited to partake as the night turned pitch black and the stars shone brighter. Tomorrow’s happenings will be filled with more action and nightlife interactions. 


[email protected]

Saturday, noon

The streets are still filled with people wearing green shirts, hoodies, shoes, necklaces and face tattoos — even more than last night’s green flurry. The ATMs are repeatedly used for cash withdrawal, and breakfast restaurants are overflowing with customers ordering food to start the day — or to finish last night’s celebrations.

Some students were heading home after their night of partying, only to recover and get ready to continue their busy day excursions and celebrations. 

“I’m going to a friend’s power hour, then I’m going to be hitting block, then probably a little brain break, some more parties and then KAMS at night,” said Safa Lakhany, senior in Information Sciences. 

Students are finding numerous ways to make the most of their Unofficial celebration. Illini Pub Cycles filled the streets with students laughing, drinking and having a good time. Other students are sticking with their friends and staying at various apartment parties while others are going straight to the bars.

“I plan to go to an apartment crawl with all of my friends — we’re going to have a really fun time, and I’m very excited,” said Lauren Rearden, junior in Business. 

This year’s Unofficial is the start of a new yearly tradition for many students, while others have kept the tradition alive since their freshman year.

“Unofficial is like the biggest holiday if you ask me,” Lakhany said. “Of course I celebrate it every year!”


[email protected]

Gallery | Saturday afternoon
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

The sun is out and so are the people on this unusually warm March day as the forecast reaches up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps groundhog Punxsutawney Phil was correct in his predictions of an early spring.  

Clusters of groups stream up and down Green Street, ready for another day of revelry. Joe’s Brewery is hosting block from noon to 4 p.m. KAMS, hosting what the bar has termed “KamRock,” a St. Patrick’s Day pop-up concept, also had block this morning and is open all day long. 

Ahbi Sitaram, junior in LAS, said he watched the basketball game this morning with friends. During the game, the Illini won against Wisconsin with a 91-83 final score.

“Woke up late, I’ve been watching the basketball game today,” Sitaram said. “Three of my friends are visiting from Minnesota. I’m from Minnesota.”  

Sitaram said he noticed that many people have friends out of town visiting because of Unofficial and expressed his passion for the University’s tradition.

“I love Unofficial,” Sitaram said. “Last year I had two friends that came. It’s honestly probably one of the best weekends in college.” 


[email protected] 

Saturday, 8:00 p.m.

Even as Saturday afternoon winds to a close, Green Street is still alive celebrating the spirit of Unofficial. And it seems as though the party won’t be winding down anytime soon.

Hoards of students flock to get cash at the Chase ATM and run to friends’ apartments, hoping to get an early start for the celebrations ensuing at KAMS, Red Lion and Joe’s this evening. 

Michael Reeve, a sophomore in LAS, said he plans to spend the night with friends away from the hustle and bustle of campus nightlife. 

“We went out to an apartment crawl last night, and I’ve got some friends who are going out tonight just to an apartment thing,” Reeve said. 

Even though the day’s celebrations have begun to dissipate, students and visitors are still rushing to Campustown’s popular restaurants like Shawarma Joint and Burrito King to take a break before heading to tonight’s parties. 

Parker Johnson, a senior in LAS, said he plans to take a quick rest and grab a bite to eat before continuing to celebrate tonight.

“My plan tonight is to relax a little bit and get some dinner before heading out again tonight,” Johnson said.

Despite the buzz and music of Unofficial being heard from FAR to PAR, Reeve said he was unimpressed with the day’s assortment of celebrations and overall atmosphere of the campus.

“I was surprised that Green Street was as dead as it was when I was there,” Reeve said.


[email protected]

Saturday, 10:00 p.m.

Festivities continued into the night, but as Green Street emptied and the lines outside bars dwindled, the vibrant atmosphere that had filled the afternoon air began to mellow out.

Groups of students dressed in green speckled the streets as they made their way to their final destinations for the night. For some, it’s another party; others were in search of a late-night snack; while most went home after a long day of celebrating. 

Joey Marzillo, senior in Business, had mixed feelings about this weekend. While he was sad that his time at the University was wrapping up, he looked forward to this final night of unofficial as an Illini. 

“You know, I graduate in May, and so I wanna make this semester the best,” Marzillo said. “It’s Unofficial and I wanna have the best time. As long as I get home safe, that’s all that matters. At the end of the day, I just wanna be here with my friends and have the time of our lives, as Pitbull says.”

Akshara Kumar, senior in AHS, had gone out every night since Thursday, saying this was the most she had celebrated since her sophomore year. 

“I went to Lion Thursday, KAMS Friday and tonight is TBD,” Akshara said.

Akshara said that compared to how the student body has celebrated Unofficial in the past, this year’s tradition felt like a letdown.

“As a senior, I wanna live out my last year going as hard as I can, but no one is going as hard as I’ve seen or heard in the past,” Akshara admitted. 


[email protected]

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Matt Stepp
Matt Stepp, Visual Director
Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
Hey there, you might recognize me as the photographer who's often at community events in Champaign-Urbana with a camera in hand. I'm currently finishing my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois. Since my first year in 2020, I have been capturing moments for the Illini Media Company, and I've recently become the Assistant Photo Editor. Filmmaking is another passion of mine – shoutout to my film club Illini Film and Video! Keep an eye out, as you could see me filming the next big hit on campus. When I am not using the camera, I am usually playing the drums. Should you have any inquiries, please don't hesitate to send me an email!
ILLordle: Play now