(ABOVE: image via HobokenStPatricksDay.com)
This Saturday, Thousands Are Sailing across the Broad, Majestic Hudson for Streams of Whiskey at the Fiesta that has come to be known as LepreCon—typically turning The Old Main Drag of this Dirty Old Town into Hell’s Ditch.
The once-revered Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Celebration has become a bit complicated over the past few years, with the proud tradition of one of the region’s premier Irish-American parades having been supplanted by whatever the hell this is…
Historically, 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.
But serving as the railhead for New Jersey Transit, as well as PATH and Light Rail, over the years Hoboken had unwittingly become the geographic crossroads for regional douchebaggery—with out-of-towners routinely rolling in and raising hell.
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 no parade.
Obviously the bar community took it on the nose when the parade was cancelled. As a result, a number of Irish-themed pub crawls, Lepre-Cons, Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parties, etc. headbutted their way into the vacuum and formed a collective Shamrock Sharknado that creates considerable havoc in certain parts of town.
Here are the stats from Hoboken’s LepreCon 2018:
- 386 calls for service (down from 488 in 2017)
- 23 individuals transported to the hospital (down from 28)
- 4 arrests (down from 11)
- 37 summonses (up from 31)
“In my 25 years of policing in Hoboken, this was the calmest I have ever seen the first Saturday of March,” said Police Chief Ken Ferrante, after last year’s event. “I am glad that no officers were injured during the event.”
Business that weekend, however, is also a far cry from what it used to be—not always the best news in a town that is seeing increased challenges for its hospitality and retail sectors.
This year’s LepreCon/Hoboken has a number of venues advertising an “ALL ACCESS PASS.” Good luck with all that…
Meanwhile, the controversy will continue:
Here’s our advice—the forecast calls for a Rainy Night in Sohoboken, but you’ll have a better chance of avoiding Boys From The County Hell or stepping in the Sickbed of Cuchulainn if you walk on the Sunny Side of the Street.
We might even join you for a pint, If I Should Fall From Grace With God…