Monday, February 28, 2011

828 My Hero

828 My Hero

(STATE COLLEGE, PA.) -- What’s the most dangerous place on earth? Is it Lybia? Or Madison? Iran? If you guessed “none of the above,” you’re right. The most dangerous place on earth is wherever you stand if it’s between a Penn State University student and his or her bar of choice. Especially at the onset of a fake and stupid holiday called “State Patty’s Day.”

Called WHAT? Maybe you need a little information first. A few years ago, SAINT Patrick’s day fell during the school’s spring break, and with students out of town, there was one less excuse for everyone to go out and get sloshed.

So some enterprising future teachers, accountants, business people, engineers, scientists, artists and others got together and made up and publicized the fake holiday. And it’s been going on ever since, even though the REAL holiday no longer falls during spring break.

State Patty’s day 2011 was Saturday, February 26th. And at late afternoon, the town’s main drag was jammed like Broadway on Thanksgiving morning. Here, the kids are older and there are no giant balloons. Or maybe the kids ARE the giant balloons. The locals wear green shirts with the holiday name in white, sometimes with pictures of the school’s symbolic mountain lion. A favorite says “State Patty’s Day Wear Green Get Drunk.”

Already, the locals are writing comments to the newspaper, most of them describing what they call the unspeakable acts of frat boys and girls, mostly on their lawns. Around here, DWI and alcohol poisoning mean cash flow for courts, lawyers and the hospital emergency room. Broadway on Thanksgiving morning. About two hundred cop stops, about 40 charged with drunk driving.

Now, to the hero, whose name is Jennifer Zangrilli, operations manager of six restaurants in the area, four of them downtown watering holes. And this day, they are either not serving alcohol or are closed entirely. It’s only a handful of restaurants in a town where there is at least one bar on every block, sometimes two or three. And Zangrilli is not the only owner to shut down for the day. But her company is old, well established and well -- and deservedly -- respected.

A hero because she doesn’t want her share of customer bar fights and bar-fing? Who can blame her? A hero because she’s setting an example? Sure, though the kids who want to get bagged will find places to do so. But here’s someone who’s putting the good of the community before profit. And THAT’s why she’s a hero.

There is a downside. First, no income on one of the busiest days of the year. Second, employees, many of them college kids with big tuition bills, or older hands with mortgages probably won’t get paid for the day.

But sometimes, you have to do the right thing. And when someone does, it’s worth talking about. And copying.

Shrapnel:

--Hunter College of the City University of New York has been named tenth best bargain in higher education. When mama went there, it was “girls only,” and it was free. For her graduate days at Columbia, which wasn’t and isn’t a bargain, she did something really shocking: earned scholarships and got jobs.

--Last Train to Clarksville? “Discovery” has arrived at the International Space Station, and then as the oldest traveler in the fleet will be grounded for good. But when it returns to earth, it will leave behind a robot spaceman with a twitter account, the better to tell you the latest... latest... latest.

--Discovery was to have made this trip in November, 2010, so it’s four months late. Computer problems delayed it, hatch problems lengthened the time of the linkup and there’s some insulation now missing from the side of the ship. Who’s running this show, the Long Island Railroad?


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2011

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