EL Readies for St. Patrick's Day

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East Lansing firefighters say things will be busy after the Michigan State University men's basketball team's victory over arch-rival Michigan in the Big 10 Championship game, but they're not expecting anything out of the ordinary.

That's a big difference from the last Big 10 Championship game for an MSU athletic team. The fire department responded to 55 fire calls in five hours the morning of Dec. 8, after the football team punched its ticket to the Rose Bowl.

"The civil disturbances that happened, I think a lot of people learned from it and hopefully they'll be more responsible," said ELFD Lt. Leo Allaire. "I think tonight is going to be fairly busy. It will be busy St. Patrick's Day."

St. Patrick's Day is one of the busiest days of the year for the fire department. Typically, Allaire said, the department gets between 60-80 calls within 24 hours. That's about triple the 20-25 calls it gets in a normal day.

"Historically St. Patrick's Day is a very busy day for us," he said. "It is a big drinking holiday. Most of our calls are alcohol related in nature all based on people drinking alcohol and being somewhat irresponsible."

To compensate, the department is doubling its ambulance force -- from two to four -- in anticipation of the festivities.

Bars are bringing in extra staffing too, to try to keep pace on a busy, 19-hour day at some locations.

"There's a lot of excitement around town, the staff gets excited about it," said Nolan Ruffing, general manager at the Riviera Cafe. "It's kind of like our Super Bowl so to speak."

Ruffing says he tries to over-staff if he can, and make sure he has plenty of food and alcohol to satisfy customers. The Riviera will open at 7 a.m. and be ready with green beer and Irish whiskeys.

Many bars and restaurants already got a taste of the atmosphere Saturday, as Michigan and Michigan State dueled on the basketball court. It adds up to a busy weekend for businesses and patrons alike.

"It's very hyped up," said Elaina Elizondo, an MSU senior. "Especially being St. Patrick's Day weekend, everyone's out already at the bars, so more green."

Students say the Spartan green and St. Patrick's green make the celebration even bigger.

"What better excuse to wear green than on St, Patrick's Day?" said Clay Carpenter, an MSU alumnus. "For students I think it's an excuse to have a good time. Everybody's together and everybody supports."

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