Six years later, Morgantown Police Chief says they’ve got St. Patrick’s Day under control

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — St. Patrick’s Day may fall on a Saturday this year, but don’t expect a repeat of the infamous 2012 St. Patrick’s Day in Morgantown that became immortalized by YouTubers I’m Shmacked.

“There’s been a number of significant changes over the last six or seven years related to changing the culture in and around the University and in the community,” said Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston.

WVU moving Spring Break to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, expected dreary weather on Saturday, residential changes throughout the town, new regulations surrounding Greek Life, and an overall attempt by the city, school, and law enforcement to change the culture in Morgantown has made St. Patrick’s Day in Morgantown a decidedly less raucous affair, according to Preston.

“It’s a much larger effort than just any one agency or one activity,” Preston said.

The YouTube video that promoted WVU’s standing as one of the nation’s top party schools was widely seen, and Preston said it didn’t do anything to help the city or the University’s image.

“There’s so many people that come here from outside the area to take advantage of the vibrant central business district that we have and the venues that we have,” Preston said. “Whether it’s the athletic events or the concerts or the night life, we get a lot of outside interest in that.”

St. Patrick’s Day 2012 was also on a Saturday, similarly during the NCAA Tournament. But the students are, mostly, out of Morgantown, Preston said.

“Others will come back early, but we expect a larger influx of outside influences that aren’t associated with the University during this holiday,” Preston said.

The weather is expected to include a rain or snow shower and temperatures that barely reach into the 40’s. In 2012, St. Patrick’s Day had a more Spring-like quality to it.

“The more significantly bad the weather is, the less activity that we have because folks are less likely to be out on the streets,” Preston said. “What we do see is we see more incidents and events confined to things like house parties or inside of the venues themselves where alcohol is served.”

Preston said he’s greatful for the timing of the bad weather. And while he said his officers will be on high alert, he’s breathing a little easier then he has in the past — even with a WVU tournament game Friday afternoon.

“It is significantly safer,” he said. “We still have problems, and we are always looking to correct those problems.”

“But, we have made some ground and we continue to make ground,” Preston added.

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