Early St. Patrick's Day Celebration Sends 28 Students to Hospitals for Alcohol Intoxication

The weekend’s festivities are known among UMass students as the “Blarney Blowout," an annual unsanctioned event related to upcoming St. Patrick's Day.

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The University of Massachusetts is warning about a TikTok drinking trend after 28 ambulances were summoned to off-campus parties during an annual early St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Students were observed Saturday carrying jugs with a mixture of alcohol, electrolytes, flavoring and water, dubbed “blackout rage gallons,” or “BORGs," in a binge-drinking trend gaining traction on TikTok, according to officials from the town of Amherst and UMass Amherst.

There were so many calls for ambulances for student alcohol intoxication that neighboring agencies stepped in to help, officials said. Ambulance crews from Amherst’s Fire Department, along with emergency crews from 11 other communities, responded to 33 calls for medical assistance, Amherst town manager Paul Bockleman told the Boston Globe.

The Amherst Fire Department said none of the cases were life-threatening. UMass Police reported two arrests for underage drinking.

The "significant number of alcohol intoxication cases" were related to off-campus student gatherings held on March 4 at a number of locations in town, officials said.

The weekend’s festivities are known among UMass students as the “Blarney Blowout," an annual unsanctioned event related to upcoming St. Patrick's Day, the Globe reported. The celebrations traditionally held before March 17 can draw thousands to Amherst for off-campus parties before spring break, which starts on March 12 this year.

The raucous day of drinking has drawn national attention in past years but had faded somewhat during the pandemic, according to Bockelman.

“But it came back this year with a vengeance,” he told the Globe.

According to the Globe, thousands were celebrating in Amherst on Saturday, and local officials believe they came from schools all over New England, with Bockelman telling the publication that "it seems to have become a destination event."

Amherst police responded to 82 calls for service, including medical assistance, assaults, traffic collisions, noise disturbances, and fights, he added.

UMass officials said this is the first time the university has observed widespread use of BORGs at parties, but noted that the trend has been seen on college campuses across the country in recent weeks.

In a statement, the university said the weekend's events will be assessed and they will consider steps to improve alcohol education and intervention. All incoming students already learn about physiological and medical risks of binge drinking as part of their required education.

NBC10 Boston/The Associated Press
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