If you have been anywhere near the campustown on certain Fridays in March, and come up with a huge throng of greenish looking leprechauns, don't start pinching yourself to see if you are dreaming or not. You have just stumbled into the "Unofficial Saint Patrick's Day" in Chambana.
Here is what UofI wiki has to say about it:
Unofficial Saint Patrick's Day, or commonly known as Unofficial, is a local event on the Urbana-Champaign campus, which aims to replace the celebration of the official Saint Patrick's Day holiday with excessive drinking of alcohol.
Champaign bar owner Scott Cochrane created the event to increase business because the week of spring break on the academic calendar usually includes Saint Patrick's Day, which leads students to celebrate away from the campus.
The event is celebrated usually the weekend before the official Saint Patrick's Day holiday. Bars might open as early as 7 a.m., and students wear T-shirts with slogans such as "Drink 'til you're Irish" or "Irish I were drunk." One T-shirt slogan read: "Tap the keg, forget the class... it's Unofficial, so fill my glass!"
Things are not really as rosey as the above note suggests. On this day, you'll find a lot of underage drinkers, passed out here and there, or coming to class drunk. The police (Champaign, Urbana, County, and of course UofI ones) have a field day ... and nab a lot of underage drinkers.
However, things can often get deadly ... a few years ago, a UofI alumnus died when the motor bike she was riding crashed into a pole on Wright street between Green and Springfield. So, be careful when you are driving through campustown , better avoid going through the area altogether.
There is of course, the "official" Saint Patrick's day, but the drinking frenzy is much less on that one.