Unofficial turns Green Street, well, green

By Erica Quednau |, Amanda Porterfield |

Published 03/07 2014 05:53PM

Updated 03/11 2014 05:21PM

Latest: 4:41 pm, 3/11/14, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN -- Looks like police and emergency crews were busier during this year's Unofficial than last year. 115 tickets were given to minors with alcohol, 100 tickets were written for public possession. That's 30 more tickets than last year for those offenses. Fifteen people were arrested. Pro Ambulance also had 40 calls for service with 27 transports; 11 more than last year.
Latest: 6:03 pm, 3/8/14, Saturday
CHAMPAIGN -- Unofficial is officially over and city leaders are pleased with how things went. With the nice weather, law enforcement anticipated a huge turnout but city, state and county officers had a handle on the event.

Officials used a command center to communicate with each other, as well as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with students. It seems to have made the difference. Police plan to release the number of citations issued, later this week.
Update: 10:01 pm, 3/7/14, Friday
CHAMPAIGN -- While much of Unofficial involved bouncing around, meeting new people and having a good time, some say this year has a different vibe on campus. Crowds of students started early Friday morning, but the end result wasn't as wild as some previous years. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield was out and about in the midst of the action.

The number of people celebrating hasn't changed much, but the attitudes and overall behavior seem to be a lot different. One student is actually using the campus "holiday" to raise money for charity.

"This is the reason I don't like unofficial."

Like it or not, this sea of green is the scene at UI each year.

"This year is the first year I have gotten a chance to explore the streets during the holiday because it's been so cold the entire time."

"I just think that there's such a stigma about unofficial in the community."

But, Elena Davis is using the warm weather to her advantage, trying to stop the stigma one handful at a time.

"There's a way to turn everything into something positive. So, to take the beer tabs from a random party that I was at, and just turn them in for St. Jude. It's a little thing, takes no time at all. I literally just walked around the party, grabbed everybody's pop tabs."

While she's popping tabs, some students are getting nailed with tickets from the dozens of officers lining the streets.

"I saw someone who got belligerent with a cop get arrested. I saw a couple people get tickets for having open containers."

Open container fines run about $180. Officers say, by the afternoon, they'd handed out about 30 tickets. They also broke up a few parties and found underage drinkers, but say none of that is out of the ordinary.

"I think the police are doing an awesome job. I think there is a lot of cooperation from other agencies. I think they're all cooperating together to make it safe for everyone."

New rules put in place this year may have contributed to a calmer crowd. One rule probably had a significant impact; you had to be 21 years or older to get into bars. Usually, you can get in when you're 19.
Original: 5:53 pm, 3/7/14, Friday
CHAMPAIGN -- It's a sea of green at the University of Illinois as Unofficial St. Patrick's Day continues. It's a campus-wide party which has often gotten rowdy in the past. But, police and students say this year is different.

A stroll through campus has students, police, visitors all saying Unofficial seems "pretty tame" so far. Further down Green Street is where much of Unofficial is happening and it was fairly easy to get through.

Police say, at this point, they've mostly been monitoring the streets. They've broken up a few campus parties, answered some underage drinking calls and handed out about 30 tickets for public possession of alcohol.

Some say they're surprised it's so quiet because of the nice weather, but feel the heavy police presence makes a big difference. People have to pay $185 for open containers of alcohol or urinating publicly. The fine is $330 for underage people caught drinking.

One student is turning Unofficial into a way to help others, collecting for a charity. Details on WCIA-3 News at 10.

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