St. Patrick’s Day in Morgantown last year conjures up more than the traditional lucky leprachaun and shamrock. The now infamous holiday was marred by dozens of street and dumpster fires, overwhelmed fire and police crews, rioting in city streets, and a viral online video that showed students partying around town.
But this year it will be different, city officials say.
Morgantown firefighters and police officers met with WVU officials Friday to discuss a plan for any debauchery. Mayor Jim Manilla said he could not discuss the specifics of the plan, but he said everyone is prepared.
“We were not prepared for the situation that happened (last year),” Manilla said. “But this year we are prepared. We are working dilligently with the university. We have a plan in effect. And if anything happens, we’ll be there.”
A confluence of factors contribtued to the problems in 2012. St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Saturday, temperatures reached near 70 degrees, a national video company was in town to film, and students were still in town.
This year, the weather is not expected to be as warm, and the holiday is on Sunday. Those factors, coupled with the city’s plan, may thwart the widespread problems seen last year.
The company that filmed last year — known as I’m Shmacked — said on its Twitter account this week that workers may come back to Morgantown for St. Patrick’s Day. Manilla said he had not heard about the company returning o the University City, but he said police officers will be ready whether there is filming or not.
Since last year, City Council passed a new ordinance that requires companies to acquire a permit before filming on public property. Manilla said he did not think I’m Shmacked had applied for a permit.
WVU students and residents in Sunnyside also took to the streets following the Mountaineers’ win over Texas last fall. After those street fires and riots, the city developed a plan that was never released to the public. Manilla is still tight lipped about specifics of what the city might put in motion.
“After that incident, we have a different working relationship with WVU. Anytime there is a big football game, basektball game or St. Patrick’s Day, there is a plan to put in effect,” Manilla said. “I don’t know what the atmosphere will be like, but we are definitely prepared for anything to happen.”