IRISH EXIT: Hoboken LepreCon Pub Crawl Falls Flat
(ABOVE: Photo via HobokenStPatricksDay.com)
***Updated to include newly released statistics (March 4; 10:15 a.m.)***
Legend has it that St.Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland. Is it possible that the drunks have been driven from Hoboken?
Perhaps it was the weather, but based on the statistics put forth by Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante, it appears most of them stayed away. A grand total of FOUR arrests were attributed to the 2019 LepreCon event—making it a non-event by Hoboken LepreCon standards. Two of those arrests were for the smokin’ o’ the green (marijuana), while one was for DWI and the other for Aggravated Assault.
- 322 Calls for Service
- 22 individuals were transported to Hoboken University Medical Center for treatment
- 12 City Ordinances were issued
- 37 Motor Vehicles Summons were issued
- 4 Leprecon related arrests
These numbers are jaw-droppingly low, compared to the heyday of the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day mayhem. Former City Hall Spokesperson Juan Melli put the stats into perspective:
You might say this chaotic dumpster fire of a day has been largely lepre-calmed.
2019: 12 https://t.co/FeD8JATlRk
— Juan Melli (@juanmelli) March 3, 2019
Since the elimination of the traditional parade in 2012, the City has been left with a hollowed out annual (unsanctioned) pubcrawl on the streets for the first Saturday of March over the past seven years. While it has gradually calmed down, the event has been particularly polarizing for residents, hospitality venues and other retailers here in town. The absence of the parade—a central community celebration for a quarter of a century—left Hoboken with little more than a green version of the dreaded SantaCon, which has exhausted the patience of many here in town.
As a response to last 2017’s SantaCon debauchery, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced the formation of a “task force” to address violence and quality of life issues resulting from intoxicated bar patrons.
“We can no longer ignore the fact that a small number of establishments are creating a big problem for everyone else in the form of violence, property damage, and financial cost,” said Bhalla in January of 2018.
A number of bars saw the fallout from this event manifest itself in significant fines and even a bar closure.
In the eyes of some officials, that increased scrutiny has been a success.
Thanks to Mayor @RaviBhalla & his administration for their support of the @HobokenPD . In the last 10 wks of 2017, we had 17 officers assaulted at bars & Con events. We discussed strategies regarding some bars who were run rogue. The 3 main problem places are now closed.
— Chief Ken Ferrante (@KenFerrante) March 3, 2019
Dreading the hassle, some venues have tried to distance themselves from the event entirely.
What was once a huge shot in the arm for local businesses has in some cases proven to be detrimental, as normal business is negatively impacted by regular customers fearing the worst. One local bar found itself pleading with customers to show up. “It’s LepreCON day- a much overhyped non-event in Hoboken. So please don’t stay away. We’re empty right now.”
Past years have seen significant violations, violence, vandalism, vomit and a variety of other unpleasantries. Many battle-weary residents and officials are happy to see the event essentially drop off.
Shabegh & I went to @HobokenPD to thank our officers/first responders for going above & beyond to keep Hob safe today. Thx also to the Office of Emergency Mgmt, @HobokenFire, @UnionCityPD, Port Auth PD, @NJTransitPolice, Stevens PD & @HobokenVol_EMS for today’s coordinated effort pic.twitter.com/m5OGCj1VKZ
— Ravinder S. Bhalla (@RaviBhalla) March 2, 2019
Nevertheless, harsh economic realities remain for Hoboken’s hospitality and retail sectors, as online retailer dominance, demographic shifts impacting hospitality, long-term construction projects and complex parking issues have colluded to make the small business landscape in town debilitating to some, and outright fatal to others.
Many in Hoboken would like to see the parade return, giving the City a signature event that would draw people to town for all the right reasons, and turn the tide of a nuisance pub crawl back into an occasion that honors and elevates the community. Some Irish-American organizations have endeavored to keep that door open, but the City and the Parade committee seem no closer to compromise today than they were seven years ago.
Meanwhile, towns throughout the New York Metro Area are able to maintain their own St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations—gearing up for the official feast day on March 17th. Events have been traditionally spread out throughout the month, to facilitate attendance and participation of marching/pipe bands.
Here in Hoboken, there are a number of authentic Irish traditions to enjoy throughout the month of March and beyond. Bars, restaurants and other retailers will be celebrating the season accordingly.
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