New Paltz Paints the Town Green for Leprecon

The Village of New Paltz was in rare form this past Saturday.

The weather alone was cause for celebration. The sun shone brightly down on pedestrians as they traveled to their designated pregame destinations. Its warming light was coupled with a perfectly cool breeze that whisked through freshly green-dyed hair and tight “newsie” caps. With this setting, the town’s fourth annual “Leprecon” celebration kicked off to a picturesque start. 

“The overall sense of community that this event brings is honestly the highlight of Leprecon,” said fourth-year communications major Matthew Krauza. “There’s nothing better than having a few drinks with your friends while you’re covered in green.”

According to P&G’s Restaurant and Bar owner Michael Beck, the event was founded in 2016 with the help of the New Paltz Tavern Association. They worked in conjunction with one of the town’s largest beer distributors, Dutchess Beer Distributors, to get the event off the ground. 

Since SUNY New Paltz’s spring break coincides with the actual St. Patrick’s Day, the bar owners wanted an Irish celebration students could call their own. Beck credits Kenny Verney, owner of Murphy’s Restaurant and Pub, for pioneering the project, which has been hugely successful since then. 

Murphy’s, P&G’s and McGillicuddy’s tend to rake in most of the student revenue during the crawl, with a few others preferring more tame drinking locations. Patrons were enticed by promises of cheap drinks and no cover charge to join the Leprecon tradition. 

For some, the party started at the crack of dawn. Liquor bottles popped open next to green palettes of paint and shaker bottles of glitter. Participants proudly wore their customized ‘bar crawl’ t-shirts and other green garb, excited to engulf themselves in the day’s fun. From a birds-eye view, massive waves of green washed throughout the streets with cheerful shouts and child-like excitement. 

“For me, the best part is the mixing of different organizations and teams everywhere,” said third-year journalism major Jessica Barr.  “It’s one of the few days people don’t just stick to their clique and you’re always bound to meet a few new people.”

Students from all walks of life converged under the common goal to let loose and forget about life for a while. The day provided a well deserved celebration for overcoming midterms or perhaps a distraction from exams looming ahead. Gathering by the dozens in parking lots, apartments and backyards, students shared laughs and drinks while mentally preparing themselves for the circus that would soon march on Main Street. 

At around 5 p.m. it finally came time to leave the comforts of home and brave the second leg of the party marathon. A coverless bar is a difficult offer to refuse. However, the insides were filled to the gills, with patrons packed like sardines. Trying to secure a drink meant wading through a wall of sweaty bodies and nuzzling your way into two inches of personal space at the bar. Regardless, people hopped on top of the bar to passionately dance or get shots fed to them from Murphy’s resident leprechaun.

 Murphy’s bartender and fourth-year digital media management major, Jimmy O’Neill, recounts the utter chaos. 

“Everyone was just on a certain level which fed the chaos,” O’Neill said. “Bartending on such a crazy day like that, especially when you’re sober, is like taking care of a bunch of needy children who won’t leave you alone until they get what they want, which is totally fine, as long as they aren’t a rude customer.” 

O’Neill shared some of his pet peeves for being a bar patron–including not being ready with your drink order, asking for refills, complaining about the drink’s alcohol content and calling out a bartender’s name who you are not close with. 

While most people enjoyed the innocent fun, Leprecon comes with its own perils. Excessive alcohol, short tempers and a whole lot of poor decision making resulted in numerous brawls in the bars and in the streets. Luckily, diligent bouncers and support from the New Paltz Police, Ulster County Sheriffs and State Police swiftly settled these disputes and kept everyone out of danger. Careful coordination between the bars and local entities ensured that Leprecon would not be derailed by those who were unable to properly celebrate. 

As daylight dwindled so did the spirit and consciousness of many of the dedicated participants. While some hardcore drinkers saw the whole night through, many people drifted off to get some much needed rest and a glass of water. 

All that remained was the wake of litter left from one of the semester’s wildest parties (excluding graduation weekend of course) and countless Instagram photos that would undoubtedly overflow everyone’s feed the following morning.