Indiana Borough Police Chief William Sutton said Saturday evening that a rape, sexual assaults and assaults were among the most serious crimes officers were investigating as they responded to large crowds of young people celebrating IUPatty’s Day.
Police Saturday were also busy responding to fights and intoxicated and unresponsive people.
The IUPatty’s Day celebration is not sanctioned by Indiana University of Pennsylvania but was an opportunity for hundreds, if not thousands, of students and out-of-town guests to converge and vent pent-up energy from a long, cold winter now because the university will be on spring break on the actual St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.
[PHOTO: Police from several jurisdictions kept a watchful eye Saturday on outdoor parties on South Seventh Street in Indiana. Large crowds gathered to celebrate “IUPatty’s Day,” which takes on an Irish theme for St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during spring break for Indiana University of Pennsylvania students. (James J. Nestor/Gazette photo)]
The festivities started Thursday evening and continued Friday. But Sutton said Saturday was by far the busiest day for police officers, in part because relatively mild weather brought crowds of young people out onto porches, sidewalks and occasionally into the streets.
“It’s a numbers game,” Sutton said, with all available officers trying to control the throngs of people.
As it was last spring, the South Seventh Street corridor especially was a problem area, with the crowds spilling out onto the streets in places and blocking traffic.
Sutton said Indiana Borough and IUP police officers were assisted by state troopers, and Saturday officers from the Punxsutawney and Homer City police departments arrived to lend a hand.
About 8 p.m. Saturday, Sutton said he thought “the worst is over.” A mixture of rain, sleet and snow had started falling, apparently putting a damper on some of the outdoor gatherings.