Kutz Patty’s Day draws unruly crowds to Kutztown
Police responded to public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, underage drinking, DUI, noise complaints, fight calls
Kutztown Borough Police responded to many alcohol related offenses, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, underage drinking, DUI and numerous noise complaints and fight calls during Kutz Patty’s Day in Kutztown on Saturday, March 24.
“Safety concerns? Anytime you get a large group of people gathering together and drinking or using drugs there is always a safety concern. People were out in the street not paying attention to traffic, people overdosing on drugs or alcohol, fights and assaults. Fortunately no one was seriously injured,” said Kutztown Police Chief Craig Summers in an email to Kutztown Patriot on Monday morning.
When asked if this year’s Kutz Patty’s Day was worse than other years, Summers said, “I don’t know if it was worse, but it certainly wasn’t better.”
A Fleetwood father contacted the Kutztown Patriot to share his “Bad Family Day in Kutztown.”
“It seemed like a good idea to take the 8 and 5 year old to the movies for the Saturday afternoon movie at the Kutztown Strand on Saturday, March 24,” writes James F. Stone, Fleetwood. “A large unruly and likely alcohol fueled crowd at the adjacent residence quickly escalated into multiple fights which spilled into the waiting area outside of the theater corralling us against the theater door. The children were crying and scared and when we had the chance moved across the street. The fighting continued and spilled across the street and into the block.
Kutztown was not the place to be that day so I guess you need to correctly pick the day when you take the family to Kutztown.”
Summers could not estimate the number of people in town for Kutz Patty’s Day compared to other years. He believes an article published by a local newspaper prior to the event didn’t help.
“I believe articles like that only serve to bring more people in town that otherwise would not have known about it,” he said. “There were many college age people from both KU and other schools. I won’t venture to guess what the percentage of KU students were, although clearly all the house parties were hosted by KU students living off campus.”
Summers said that it is a misnomer to call Kutz Patty’s Day a holiday, it is not endorsed or recognized by the any federal, state or local government.
“Both the Borough and the University do not sanction this event so it is not an organized function like some of the other things that happen in the Borough such as the Block Party, Kutztown Kruiz or the Taste of Kutztown. If the Borough had some sort of way of stopping this event it would, unfortunately this has somehow gotten a life of its own and now has become an annual event,” said Summers. “We will continue to look at ways to stop it and/ or make it less invasive for the town.”
Summers thanked the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Enforce-
ment, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Kutztown University Department of Public Safety and the Berks County Sheriff’s Department.
“All these agencies delegated a significant amount of manpower throughout the day and evening to help keep a handle on things,” said Summers.
Eric Johnson, KU professor and Kutztown resident and father, observed that much of the traffic Saturday seemed to be from out of town. Parking lots were full. He also saw a number of people Sunday morning returning to cars with sleeping gear.
“This is not exclusively a KU thing,” said Johnson.
Kutztown Mayor Jim Schlegel said, “We can’t stop it. We are always outnumbered. We bring in outside law enforcement agencies to help. It is all we can do to protect everyone. It is a tremendous draw on the Borough’s resources. We work with KU to try and curb things.”
Schlegel and former mayor Sandy Green, who is now Kutztown University Community Liaison & Government Relations Assistant, sent a letter to landlords and the general community prior to Kutz Patty’s Day.
“For many years, the Borough of Kutztown and Kutztown University have partnered to develop strategies to create and sustain the best community for residents, students, and guests. However, over the past several years we have witnessed the events of Kutz Patty’s Day and the toll it has taken on business owners, residents, and other community members. While the Kutz Patty’s Day activities may be designed to be fun for participants, the impact these activities have on our community have been vast.”
Beyond the trash and debris leave behind, police, fire, and emergency medical staff are often taxed as they respond to behavior that is unsafe and in many cases preventable, they wrote.
“We believe that many Kutz Patty’s Day participants are not residents or KU students, but guests
seeking to be part of this annual event.”
According to their letter, Kutztown Borough Police enlisted the help of uniformed and plain-clothes officers from other agencies “to maintain a robust police presence to address and manage any issues that may arise.” Residents, landlords and business owners were encouraged to join the KUBoK neighborhood watch group, be visible and to establish expectations for tenants and their guests relative to behavior. Businesses were asked to refrain from promoting drinking activities and specials. Everyone was asked to be vigilant in reporting suspicious activities to local law enforcement and to refrain from posting videos and images to social media.
In addition, the University provided programming throughout the day for students, and several Greek organizations provided that day and the following day.
According to the letter, those found engaging in public intoxication, public urination, disorderly contact, underage drinking and open containers, as well as other violations were held
accountable. House parties were shut down and tenants cited.
In their letter, Schlegel and Green showed their appreciation in advance of the community support and cooperation, “The impact of a collective effort is collective success, and thereby we are all able to have the best community possible.”
KU sent a message to students Friday prior to Kutz Patty’s Day from President Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson and Dean of Students Dr. Donavan McCargo, reminding students to be safe and to act responsibility both on and off campus during the St. Patrick Day celebrations.
“While the vast majority of our students have been exemplary in how they conduct themselves in the community and at the time of these holidays, there have been serious violations of policy and law in the past by a small minority. While we recognize the right of Kutztown University students to lawfully have celebrations, they also have a responsibility to be good citizens and responsible neighbors. Behavior such as littering, public drunkenness, noise violations and
damaging property are all against the law.”
The letter warned that any student found in violation of the law will have their name forwarded to the judicial board for action.
“We fully support the mayor, local police and others in the community in their efforts to enforce the law. We are working with university and community leaders to identify ways we can better control unlawful and destructive actions on the part of both students and non-students,” wrote Hawkinson and McCargo.
Matt Santos, vice president of communications, marketing and external affair at Kutztown University, said, “The Kutz Patty’s Day celebration has grown in the last few years in line with similar celebrations in college towns around the Commonwealth. While the date attracts college students outside of Kutztown University, we have taken a very proactive approach regarding the situation in the past two years. We message our student body in advance, provide additional police coverage, and have an administrative
presence in the borough. In an effort to be good neighbors with the borough, we coordinate closely with Mayor Schlegel’s office, as we do year round, to assist in any other ways we can.”
Santos said KU also makes an effort to help ensure clean up in the borough by sending student groups into town periodically, including the Sunday after Kutz Patty’s Day.
Kutztown Borough Council member Arabel Elliott toured the town late Saturday afternoon, spoke with business owners, landlords and residents.
“There seems to be a agreement from various sectors of the community that the presence of outsiders is the serious concern. In fact business owners commented that the KU students that they see in their stores on a regular basis were respectful,” said Elliott.
Kutztown Community Partnership’s Sunday Clean Up on March 25 included Kutztown Area School District students, KU students and community members, who volunteered to clean up trash left behind from Kutz Patty’s Day activities.