‘Fake Paddy’s Day’ takes over Kent

People play beer pong on a lawn outside a house on Summit St on March 16, 2019. 

KentWired Staff

Students decked in green — some of them with bead necklaces swinging around their necks and mini clover tattoos sparkling on their cheeks, and others carrying 12 packs of beer to their friends’ parties — strolled through Kent Saturday for something so college.

It was Kent State’s very own version of St. Patrick’s Day: “Fake Paddy’s Day.”

This year, the day started out relatively quiet. At 7 a.m. Saturday, snow gently fell while people ordered their coffee at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. In some areas, police began to patrol the streets.

The pace didn’t really pick up until about 8 a.m. As the sun rose, blanketing Kent in a soft orange glow, students (and some brave community members) left their dorms and apartments in large groups for house parties, fraternity houses and bars. It was a day for drinking, dancing and spending time with friends.

For some, this year’s Fake Paddy’s was their first experience with the infamous Kent holiday. For others, it was their last celebration of their college career.

“It’s like our last hurrah because I know that when we graduate, we’re not going to be able to wake up at 6 a.m. and go this hard,” said a senior Kent State student who asked not to be named.

The festivities continued on Summit Street with droves of people donning green who flocked from house to house and porch to porch. Pong tables were set up in some yards, while others were content to simply hang out and mingle on the grass.

Two men roughhoused near the street, quickly being pulled back across the sidewalk by their friends as cars passed. Moving down the street, people hurried off of sidewalks and onto lawns for fear of having their parties shut down by the cops.

At one house, a man in dark green plaid ushered people off the sidewalk. Moments later, someone tossed a glass bottle from somewhere within the gathering group of people, which shattered on the concrete.

In Province, a band of green jersey-clad men, one of which balanced a full pint of beer with unexpected ease in his hand, laughed as one smacked a piece of cake onto a friend’s car windshield, frosting splattering across the glass like a Rorschach test.

Fake Paddy’s isn’t just a holiday for current students. It’s also an opportunity for alumni, like Alyssa Reman and Becca Wolke, to return to Kent and celebrate.

“I came back cause it’s like a perfect weekend to come back,” Reman said.

“(And) see old friends,” Wolke piped in.

At some of the fraternity houses, front yards were taped off to prevent people on the street from entering to control crowd sizes. Wandering party-goers picked up scattered Natural Light beers and shook them to see if they were unopened like they were participating in an Easter egg hunt.  

Close to Eagles Landing, groups walked down East School Street and greeted each other with compliments on their green and gold regalia.

As people congregated, they moved toward houses where music blared and cut through yards of mud and puddles. A group of sophomore girls giggled as they slid through the mud, their Converse coated in the slick, and ran as soon as they were free. They were a sea of neon green shamrocks flying down the street.

When some bars opened around noon, more and more people navigated downtown to get into places before they got too packed.

Around 1 p.m., the lines outside Water Street Tavern and Ray’s Place stretched out the door and winded down the street. Shouts and laughter echoed through the alley connecting Water Street and Erie Street, from which both lines were growing in size.

Some Kent residents walked their pets around the block when they caught the attention of waiting bar patrons. Among these pooches were Jill and Tommy, sporting green and wagging their tails.

“Yeah, Jilly gets pretty excited with all the people down here,” Jill’s owner said. “She’s already out of breath.”

Outside Zephyr Pub, Steve, who did not provide his last name, was discussing the latest Cleveland Browns developments. Steve was happy to pose for a photo with his kilt and greeted people as they passed by.

When asked if he was enjoying this year’s Fake Paddy’s Day, Steve said, “Oh absolutely, I’m all in. Plus, I get to break out the kilt.”

Normally around 2 p.m. on Fake Paddy’s marks the start of what students call “nap and rally,” when people take a break from their festivities to nap, and then eventually go out again.

But this year, downtown stayed vibrant.

Groups of students and townies alike gathered in large groups to make their way from bar to bar. Others decided to take a break, grabbing a quick bite to eat or a coffee at Tree City Coffee & Pastry to keep their energy high. Some jumped out of line at BarFlyy and decided they needed food instead, running toward the nearest restaurant.

Girl scouts and their parents marched up and down East Main Street and dragged wagons full of $5 boxes of cookies, tempting those standing in lawns to give into their alcohol-fueled cravings and scarf down a sleeve of Thin Mints.

Ubers and Lyfts made their rounds and took patrons where they needed to go, trying to keep up with their scheduled pick-ups.

The celebration continued late into the night with hundreds of people forming lines out the door at almost every bar. Partygoers listened to music, socialized with friends and embraced the chilly temperature while waiting in line. Some groups ordered pizza to eat while they waited to get into the bars.

Jordan Kessler, a partygoer, said Zephyr was his favorite bar because he was able to get inside earlier in the evening.

“The lines at the bars are too long,”  Kessler said. “I like getting in and getting out.”

Kent State police officers Joseph Knotek and Brittee Wolf patrolled campus and kept their eyes out for suspicious activity. Before 20 minutes had passed on the midnight shift, the officers stopped an inebriated student who nearly stumbled into the traffic of East Main Street from Haymaker Parkway. They were able to help the student order an Uber back home.

The officers watched each others’ backs as large numbers of students walked up and down the street to bars and restaurants. Students shuffled past the officers handling incidents and looked on with curiosity, but tried to avoid trouble themselves.

Wolf spotted a young man who wandered into the darkness behind Chipotle and leaned against a wall with his back turned to the cruiser. The officer shined a long-distance spotlight on the man across the street, but the student did not notice.

A little shift of the spotlight, and the man soon realized the officer. He was urinating in public and left the scene.

The officers used their presence to discourage students from engaging in illegal behavior.

“Our biggest thing is our proactivity, and I think that’s essentially what has created far less severe events,” Wolf said. “The other important part of the job, that is making sure the students get home safely, is often overlooked.”

Knotek said a lot of time people only see the red and blue lights, but they don’t realize officers are just trying to keep everyone safe.

Throughout the night, the officers made several other stops on campus, but none were violent or felonious. An occasional beer can dropped, a few missing tail lights or headlights and some calls for minor vandalism were made by campus security.

On Sunday morning, students, still dressed in their green get-ups and sparkles from the day before, stumbled home and let their heads hit their pillows and drifted off to sleep. Of course, with smiles on their faces.

Lydia Taylor, David Williams, Madison MacArthur, Laina Yost, Ella Abbott, McKenna Corson, Lauren Sasala and Alex Johnson contributed to this story.