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Should Hoboken Have Axed St. Patrick’s Day Parade?

January 21, 2012

Hoboken recently announced that it is canceling this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade, traditionally held on the first Saturday in March. The city government cited the two sexual assaults and 34 arrests reported at last year’s event, and its “inability to protect spectators, bands and participants” as the reason. These would have been the 26th annual festivities.

Photo Credit: Richard J. McCormack for the Jersey Journal

The alternative suggested by the city government was moving the parade to a Wednesday, which the parade organizing committee called “insulting.” (Why?) So it has been canceled.

Needless to say, this has set off a firestorm of controversy in Hoboken, a town that loves itself a party. Even the U.K. has weighed in.

And it IS unfortunate. On the one hand, the parade is a longstanding tradition, and a fun one. EVERYONE goes to see the parade. I have gone to see the parade, and attended a few house parties with green beer and green bagels in my day.

On the other hand, many people, myself included, traditionally flee to avoid the mayhem. Hey, let’s face it, when a town posts signs in the windows of its businesses advising that public urination on the day of an event is a misdemeanor, you sit up and take notice.

Although I am sad about the parade, things have gotten so out of hand that, if they kept on going the way they were going, it would only be a matter of time before an alcohol-related tragedy occurred.

Hoboken, we have a problem…

As my friend Scott put it in a Facebook post, “there must be a way to preserve this tradition AND maintain public safety and law and order. It doesn’t seem like rocket science.” I agree, although I am unable to offer a solution, except to keep the city’s many bars closed at least until after the parade concludes. Many people who commented on Scott’s FB post said the same thing.

I think Hoboken has one of the highest concentrations of bars/restaurants per square mile in the state: we have A LOT of bars.

The bars opened very early on parade day, at 9 am or so, and pretty much the whole town was wasted by 10 or 11 am. This basically set the tone for the rest of the day. The parade started at 11 or 12, I think, and lasted for about an hour. And the partying continued from there. Keeping the bars closed until after parade may have helped keep things under control.

 Good Con-ic sense?

All is not lost though, party lovers. A group of residents has organized Hoboken Lepre-Con for Saturday, March 3. For the uninitiated, this event is modeled on Santa-Con, a pub crawl held the Saturday before Christmas in Manhattan.

Lepre-Con would be the same thing, in Hoboken, with party-goers dressed as leprechauns. The event starts at 9 am, according to its web site. I have friends who plan to attend Lepre-Con, and I am looking forward to seeing the attendees’ costumes. My friends ALWAYS party responsibly.

Hopefully, Lepre-Con will be a good time for all, and just an excuse for dangerous, disorderly behavior. Even so, it won’t be the same without the parade.

Photo Credit: Richard J. McCormack for the Jersey Journal

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