Plattsburgh used to be a hot spot for St. Patrick's Day, with people coming from across the nation to enjoy all sorts of festivities, with the result sometimes being quite destructive.
Though you can walk around downtown on March 17 these days without being accosted by drunken revelers, that hasn't always been the case.
Plattsburgh Police Department Lt. Scott Beebe, who has lived in the area all his life, said the general atmosphere has completely transformed.
"It was crazy, but it got out of control," he said. "Things have changed."
The last St. Patrick's Day celebrated in such a manner was in 1978, after a series of less than peaceful celebrations in the heart of Plattsburgh. At that time, the celebrations were putting a lot of pressure from community members, law enforcement and college administration to do something.
State University of New York at Plattsburgh historian Dr. Douglas Skopp witnessed some of the drunk and disorderly conduct that came with celebrating the Irish holiday, when the entire downtown area would be blocked off for the occasion.
"There was wall to wall people in Plattsburgh city streets ... There was a lot of people, and a lot of students, and a lot of public drinking," said Skopp, who added the traditionally dyed green beer was in no shortage.
Bill Laundry, who was and remains head of Student Affairs at the university, said problems downtown were mostly caused by out-of-towners invited by students or coming on their own accord, not the students themselves.
"Originally, it was sort of a Plattsburgh phenomena, it pretty much involved the college, St. Patty's Day and the downtown area and residents," Laundry said. "It was all in the family."
Laundry said the change in the attitude of the crowd, as well as a few other incidents, caused the change in policy.
"We'd have to gear up for out-of-towners," he said. "If you come here from college 'X', you need a place to stay."
According to Skopp, a specific incident regarding overcrowding in the Monopole bar brought the safety of the partiers, specifically students, to the forefront. As a result, Plattsburgh State's seventh president, Joseph C. Burke, made the decision to extend the college's spring break through St. Patrick's Day, forever changing the downtown scene during that fateful week each March.
According to his extensive research, Skopp claims there are many false rumors surrounding the holiday, one being Plattsburgh making the Playboy list of top party schools, which never happened, he said. And, despite frequent clashes with law enforcement and damage to the storefronts downtown, there was never a full-on "riot" in Plattsburgh on St. Patrick's Day, said Skopp.
"It wasn't a riot," he said. "But, there was a lot of crowd control."
Skopp hypothesized the college's policy has not changed because of safety issues.
"The college doesn't want any event where students are likely to be injured."
Laundry said the college did not want someone to die before they made changes, so they made a pre-emptive strike against situations that could cause serious injuries or disturbances.
"It was mostly people having a good time," he said. "But, it was just too many people."
And, after years of policy change and public upheaval, Plattsburgh is now quite a quiet town during St. Patrick's Day.
Michael O'Keefe is an intern with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.