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SUNY, city gear up for Cortaca activities

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Liam Fogarty, a SUNY Cortland junior and vice president of the Theta Chi fraternity, wields a sledgehammer in pounding a junk car marked “Smash Ithaca.” The fraternity sponsored the fundraiser as part of Cortaca week festivities. Students donated money to beat on the car, with the funds going to the United Services Organization.

Police agencies have coordinated their plans. SUNY Cortland has planned its activities. The beer trucks have made their deliveries. Cortland’s ready for the Jug.

The Red Dragons will seek Saturday to keep the Cortaca Jug for the seventh consecutive year in the 58-year rivalry with Ithaca College, where a simple crockery jug and bragging rights are the prizes. Everyone else will seek to keep the peace while enjoying the whole affair.

Cortland police, county sheriff’s officials and state police have coordinated their plans, Sheriff Mark Helms told the county Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. And he pointed out that the seniors this year will be the last class with any direct memory of the 2013 jug, when partiers filled downtown Cortland — police estimated between 5,000 and 10,000 in the business district and surrounding neighborhoods. Eighty people, 19 of them SUNY Cortland students, were arrested, mostly for minor violations, but four assaults.

The day after that event, college students and neighbors began to clean up the mess, a tradition that will continue this year, said college spokesman Fred Pierce. They’ll gather at noon Sunday outside Brix Restaurant on Main Street, mess or no.

That caps a week of planned activities meant to hype the tradition, but also provide safer alternatives than a spontaneous street party turned ruckus.

“Very few colleges our size have anything remotely like the Cortaca Jug,” SUNY Cortland President Erik Bitterbaum said in a news release. “It’s a source of institutional pride and a bridge between students and alumni — some of whom graduated more than half a century ago.”

The game is in Cortland this year, but will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable channel 325 and across the campus at noon.

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