The big 21

Erin Dean

21st birthday can be fun, but also dangerous

Adam Cade | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Out of all the birthdays that come and go, there is only one that seems to overshadow the rest – the year of the 21st birthday.

While turning 21 in reality is simply another year gone by, it has been tagged with certain stipulations and expectations in American society. It marks the passage from young adult to true grown-up with the ability to purchase and consume alcohol. In Kent, it happens in a big way.

Heather Treer, senior early childhood education major, spent her birthday night at the Brewhouse Pub until it closed.

“I had a lot of fun on my birthday,” Treer said. “I had most of my friends with me, who all looked out for me.”

Because there are only a few bars in downtown Kent that allow 18-year-olds to enter, turning 21 means joining the rest of the “of age” crowd in frequenting places such as Glory Days, Ray’s Place, Mugs Brew Pub and Sports Grill, The Loft and others.

Brett Sinning, general manager of the Water Street Tavern, also known as Glory Days, said it is pretty easy to tell when it’s somebody’s 21st birthday.

“They usually come in with a huge crowd of all their excited friends,” Sinning said. “And the birthday boy or girl will be sure to let you know many times that it’s their birthday.”

Sinning said the normal thing to do for the 21st birthday is for the birthday boy or girl to take 21 shots.

“I didn’t do 21 of them,” Treer said. “But I did do about 17 within an hour.”

While Treer made it home safely, she said she is not surprised to hear about many new 21-year-olds having rough nights.

“My friend’s birthday was a disaster,” Treer said. “She ended up sleeping in the hallway. A lot of people just drink to get completely drunk that night, but then they end up not remembering anything. As long as you have at least one friend looking out for you and you drink in moderation, you should be OK.”

Chris Cowhick, sophomore manufacturing technology major, agrees that many people view the point of the 21st birthday to end the night as drunk as possible.

“Basically the point is to go from bar to bar, taking the most disgusting free shots until you puke everywhere,” Cowhick said. “For me, the main places I went were Glory Days, Ray’s and The Loft. I just did a bunch of bar shots at each place. The only bad part was it was during finals week.”

While the birthday celebration has been built up for students as an unforgettable night of fun, crime prevention officer Alice Ickes cautions students who are planning for the evening.

“21 shots – that is a lethal dose,” Ickes said. “While Kent has not suffered any fatalities from these celebrations, everyone knows of someone who has had a terrible night due to the binge drinking. I don’t know how intelligent young people can promote such dangerous activities where you see how much alcohol the body can contain.”

For junior psychology major Ben Chambers, whose 21st birthday is in late October, the intense drinking will be part of the celebration.

“Twenty-first birthday celebrations are so big because it is a reason to go out and get black-out-shit-can-drunk,” Chambers said. “Plus everyone loves a reason to celebrate.”

Sinning said Glory Days offers the house shot called the “Horny Scoutmaster” for the birthday boy or girl. Also, he and others at work try to keep a close eye on those celebrating their special day.

“We know they’re going to be drinking probably more than usual,” he said. “We just keep an eye out for them and make sure they are safe if we can.”

Despite the expectations for turning 21, Ickes strongly suggests students pick an alternative celebration.

“Why not get together with your friends and do something like eat 21 slices of pizza instead of being completely intoxicated,” Ickes said.

For Treer, it is not about the amount of alcohol consumed, but more about the experience.

“Before you’re 21, there’s nothing to do but go to people’s houses,” she said. “Now it’s just fun to go to bars. I love being at Kent bars. I get to see everyone else I don’t get to see during the weekdays. Besides, I’ve heard your 22nd birthday is known to be even bigger than this one.”

Contact student life reporter Erin Dean at edean [email protected].