(Originally posted on March 5, 2016—updated to reflect 2017 Bar Guide)
by Christopher M. Halleron
So… what’s the deal with Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day?
Pull up a wee barstool, lads and lasses, and we’ll tell you a tale…
Nearly three decades ago, Hoboken’s Irish-American community decided it would be nice to hold a St. Patrick’s Day Parade here in town—independent of the much larger celebration across the river in Manhattan on March 17. So the first Saturday of March was designated “Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day.”
Friends and families would gather for a parade down the center of Washington Street, then adjourn to a local bar or restaurant for a bit of harmless revelry. A good time was had by all.
Serving as the railhead for New Jersey Transit, as well as PATH and Light Rail, Hoboken had unwittingly become the geographic crossroads for regional douchebaggery—with out-of-towners routinely rolling in and raising hell. Meanwhile Hoboken’s perennial families had been flushed out by the tide of gentrification, supplanted in part by younger, entitled, transient masses with little to no sense of community.
The Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade itself continued, more or less without incident—however, the “harmless revelry” that followed became increasingly contentious. Fights, public urination, public intoxication became the order of the day.
The City of Hoboken’s knee-jerk response at the time was to crack down on the bars. The people of Hoboken responded by hosting house parties—taking the scene out of a relatively controlled barroom environment and putting it in people’s living rooms. Everyone invited all their @$$hole friends to town, so they could urinate, defecate, regurgitate all over the streets of Hoboken.
The City of Hoboken then enacted a “ZERO TOLERANCE” policy, fining individuals up to $2,000 plus community service for “consumption of alcohol/open container in public, urinating in public, maintaining a nuisance (disorderly and unsafe house parties), disorderly conduct & improper behavior.” Nevertheless, the first Saturday in March still saw hundreds of arrests and citations.
In 2012, the City of Hoboken demanded that the Parade Committee move the parade to a weekday, to curb such incidents. The Parade Committee opted not to do it.
Whether “the City cancelled the parade” or the “Parade Committee cancelled the Parade” is up for interpretation.
Bottom line: There is still no actual parade this year.
But I heard there’s still a huge party on in Hoboken this weekend.
Obviously the bar community took it on the nose when the parade was cancelled. In protest, there have been various incarnations of Irish-themed pub crawls, Lepre-Cons, Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parties, etc. hosted by individual or even groups of local bars. They have fundamentally been a success, occurring with minimal incident as patrons are served by professionals at a licensed establishment.
Yet even without the Parade, the problematic house parties continue. Therefore, the City’s “ZERO TOLERANCE” policy typically remains in effect for the first Saturday in March every year.
So cut to the chase—what does all this mean for people who want to come to Hoboken this weekend?
Come to town and enjoy yourself, just don’t be an ass (more on that below…).
Our very good friends at Hoboken-Bar.net have compiled a thorough list of who is doing what and where. Basically every bar in Hoboken will open early and will plan on being busy.
Awesome! So I can still run around Hoboken like an unhinged imbecile and completely trash the place?
Sorry, my young drunken anarchist friend, but you’ll find quite the opposite. Hoboken makes a lot of money that day—not just the bars, restaurants, and other merchants, but the city itself. Hoboken’s Finest are certainly on the lookout and will bust anyone for anything in order to get the fines. Advise your friend from Manhattan that this is not Mardi Gras and she cannot walk down the street with an alcoholic beverage in her hand. And tell your college buddy in from Boston that he might want think twice about peeing in the middle of Washington Street, unless he feels like pissing away $2K (See: “ZERO TOLERANCE”).
What time should I get to the bar?
Get there as early as possible, or as late as possible. Most bars will open around 11 a.m. or so, and should be full by noon. They stay filled to capacity until around 11 p.m., when the Darwinism of drunkenness takes effect and the weak have all either passed out or been thrown out.
Why do bars have such long lines? Do they think it’s funny to watch people stand outside in the cold?
Bartenders and bar owners would much rather have people inside spending money than outside getting pissed off. Capacity restrictions and strict enforcement of those restrictions by the Fire Marshall on that day in particular create the situations outside the bars. See, we told you to get there early… And don’t try telling the bouncer your friends are inside because he likely doesn’t give a rat’s arse.
Once I’m in a bar, I can act like a total &!@% because the bar staff are lucky to have me.
Think again, tool. Last thing you want is to get kicked out of a bar you just waited an hour and a half to get into. Keep in mind that you’re just taking up space, and there are hundreds of others standing right outside that could fill that space should you be asked to vacate it. Take it easy, folks—be good or be gone is in full effect.
Your call. If it goes south, you’re facing a $2K fine (See: “ZERO TOLERANCE”)
Gee, all those people doing all that drinking packed into a square mile. That seems like a great day to drive into Hoboken.
We would strenuously suggest you and your friends take advantage of the various public transportation opportunities Hoboken has to offer. And as always, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. If common sense isn’t enough to stop you, rest assured there will be roadblocks at either end of town. (See: “ZERO TOLERANCE”)
Other handy wee tidbits of advice:
-”Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons will get you nowhere with the ladies.
-There is no “Official” Beer of St. Patrick’s Day. Despite all its recent financial difficulties, the Catholic Church has yet to seek corporate sponsorship of its saints’ feast days (though it may only be a matter of time…).
-The same goes for “Official” St. Patrick’s Day Headquarters—as if that stinky dive down the street with the broken urinal would actually be the epicenter of the world’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
-Just because Mario’s Bar & Grill has a shamrock in the window, it doesn’t necessarily make it an Irish bar.
-In most circles, House of Pain’s “Jump Around” is not considered traditional Irish music.
-Ask any brewer and they’ll tell you—when a beer turns green it’s a BAD thing.
-Killian’s Irish Red is made in Golden, Colorado, not Enniscorthy, Ireland.
-One of the top-selling beers in Ireland is Budweiser.
-Guinness is most certainly not a microbrewery (We can’t make this stuff up—we actually heard someone say that once).
-Asking a bartender to put a shamrock on the top of a well-poured Guinness is like asking Da Vinci to put a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
-Not only is the “Irish Car Bomb” (a pint glass half full of Guinness with a shot glass of Bailey’s and Jameson dropped in) an appalling name for a drink, the waste of Guinness and Jameson in some novelty shooter is nothing short of blasphemy. Save the “Boilermakers” for the Milwaukee’s Best and enjoy a quality beverage the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.
-A pint of Guinness takes a while to be poured properly—if you’re in a hurry, then order something else.
-Guinness in a plastic cup is a travesty, no matter how busy the bar is.
-The plural of Guinness is Guinness, not Guinnesses.
-More often than not, Irish people (by that, we mean people born and raised in Ireland) couldn’t give a rat’s arse what town your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather left during the Potato Famine.
-There is no room for a discussion of Irish politics in a crowded bar.
-The stereotype of drunken Irish bar-fighters applies mostly to Irish-Americans.
-No matter what you may have heard or read, a traditional Irish breakfast DOES NOT consist of a six-pack and a potato.
-No, your bartender would rather not wear a silly plastic green hat while working, but thanks for the offer.
-There is no “siesta” napping on the bar for St. Patrick’s Day—you have that confused with Cinco de Mayo, which is two months away.
-Just because the bar is open all day and all night doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be there drinking the whole time.
-Just because you gave a big tip doesn’t give you carte blanche for being a jerk off!!!
Yet despite all the bitches, gripes and complaints, there’s a lot of earning of the green that goes along with the wearing of the green. We feel your pain, bartenders—believe us… but your best bet is to “Er-Grin ‘n’ Go Bear-it” as you look forward to the pot o’ gold at the end o’ ye rainbow—the long, messy rainbow that it is.