(Dina Rudick/Globe file photo)
With Saint Patrick's Day rapidly approaching, South Boston's city, state and neighborhood activists are steeling themselves for the unruliness that inevitably accompanies the holiday.
However, their focus this year is not just on residents, but also on outsiders who visit the small neighborhood for the festivities.
Nick Collins, the state representative from South Boston, has sent a letter to area colleges asking for "your cooperation in curbing public drinking."
"Thousands of visitors join us each year for this wonderful tradition and we welcome them," Collins said, in letters to the presidents of Northeastern, Emerson, Boston College, Harvard, Wentworth, UMass Boston, Boston University and Suffolk. "We do not, however, welcome the Mardi Gras-like atmosphere that has accompanied them in recent years."
The mayor's office echoed the sentiment in a press release today, noting that the Boston Police Department "maintains open lines of communication with all local colleges and universities and any student arrested will not only face criminal charges, but will also be subject to penalties imposed by their academic institution."
Many schools—including Harvard, UMass and Suffolk University—are on spring break this week, but some have still sent out campus-wide notices.
Mark Jannoni, associate dean of students at UMass Boston, told students in an e-mail today to behave during both the Saint Patrick's Day parade and the Boston Marathon. Jannoni warned them to "guard against getting caught up in events that could cause harm to your academic futures."
The South Boston Association of Non-Profits is distributing posters to be displayed in the windows of residents throughout the neighborhood. They read "WELCOME TO SOUTHIE – MY HOME" and encourage visitors to be respectful of the neighborhood and obey drinking laws. The association has also distributed a letter encouraging families to take advantage of the four "family friendly zones," which will be alcohol-free.
Only three of 13 people arrested during 2009 Saint Patrick's Day-related arrests were South Boston residents, the Police Department said. The rest were from such places as Newton, Mashpee, Salem, and New Hampshire. Only four of those arrests were for underage drinking, but an additional 400 citations were issued for public drunkenness. Data from 2010 were not immediately available.
Police will increase patrols along the parade route as well as within local bars. Package stores in South Boston have been instructed to close early, at 4 p.m. and bars will close by 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
E-mail Cara Bayles at firstname.lastname@example.org.