Merchants and police officers alike will hunker down tonight for the Downtown Lodi tradition called College Night.
The night before Thanksgiving, when out-of-town college students return home to Lodi for the long weekend, is a time for young people to catch up with friends they haven’t seen in a few months.
Some also use it as an opportunity to get drunk.
That brings the attention of Lodi police, who will be in Downtown in force tonight to watch for public drunkenness, drunken driving and overcrowded bars, Lodi Police Lt. Sierra Brucia said.
Officers will patrol in cars, on bicycles and on foot, Brucia said. They will be aided by Lodi police cadets and the California Alcoholic Beverage Control.
“We have seen a drop-off in calls for service the last couple of years,” Brucia said.
But in previous years, college students have been arrested for drunkenness and fighting. Bars have also been cited for exceeding their occupancy limits. Brucia hopes that a strong police presence will prevent these problems this year.
One of the more popular Downtown Lodi taverns on College Night is Ollie’s Pub on North School Street.
“We’re all prepped. We have an outdoor bar,” bartender Steven Smith said. “We’ll be strict on security.”
Smith added that Ollie’s staff will be careful not to exceed the bar’s occupancy limit.
“It’s got to be safe,” he said.
They also don’t want customers to be overly drunk. Security staff will not allow customers to enter Ollie’s if they are exceedingly drunk, Smith said.
Mike, a bartender at Garry’s Lounge on School Street who declined to give his last name, said that Garry’s has always had a good College Night.
They will have extra security at the front and back doors to check customers’ ages and to make sure there aren’t more than 70 people inside — that’s the maximum number Garry’s is allowed to have at one time.
Stooges of Lodi, on West Pine Street, will double its staff tonight. Owner Ken Pratt said he hopes to control any unruly activity with a $5 cover charge from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Stooges won’t have any major drink specials, because those who show up there aren’t there to be enticed by a bargain, Pratt said.
In addition to having enough security on hand, bartenders at Garry’s are getting ready to serve the cocktails that are currently popular among college students. They include:
- Superman, which combines raspberry-flavored vodka, blue curacao liqueur and an energy drink. It makes the drink turn red and blue — Superman’s colors — Mike said
- Kamikaze, consisting of vodka, triple sec and lime juice.
- Jägerbombs, a Jägermeister shot added to a 1-pint energy drink.
- Firebomb, a cinnamon-flavored whiskey.
Garry’s will also have Pabst Blue Ribbon beer on draft for $2.
Ollie’s will offer some drink specials, but decisions have not been finalized, Smith said. They will offer all the same drinks as Garry’s, plus one that Smith says is unique to Lodi — the “Pickle Back.” That’s a shot of Jameson Irish whiskey with a chaser of pickle juice.
At least a couple drinking establishments will not participate in College Night. The Dancing Fox Winery and Bakery, at School and Walnut streets, will close at 3 p.m. today, and Lodi Beer Co. will discourage partiers, co-owner Sam Rehmke said.
“(College students) kind of start here. Some of them will meet here for dinner and then go out,” Rehmke said. “We cater to families and stuff.”
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.