A Hoboken business group is trying to breathe new life into the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but driving out of town is a conditional approval of residents and a popular annual pub crawl.
The Hoboken Business Alliance (HBA) created a poll for residents and non-residents alike, asking if they would like to see a family-friendly version of the event on the first Saturday of March after an 11-year hiatus.
The city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee canceled the 2012 parade after city officials, frustrated by the drunken debauchery that had become an annual event after the parade, tried to move it to a weekday.
In 2011, about 34 people were arrested on the day of the parade and nearly 296 summonses were issued, officials said. There have been reports of public urination, sexual assault, property damage and more.
LepreCon, an annual bar crawl, filled the void and the bad behavior continued, although it got less loud each year.
“Pending feedback from residents, I think a family-friendly themed parade, as well as a way to rid our city of ‘Con’ events, is a much better route to a positive day in the City of Hoboken on the first Saturday of March,” said he Ken Ferrante, Director of Public Safety.
Now the city-founded group to support and promote city businesses has met with city officials on the possibility of the parade returning as part of a week of Irish heritage events.
“The city has had some discussions with bar owners that they would not be attending LepreCon,” said James Runkle, president of the corporate alliance board of trustees.
“…The idea is that this time of year is a bit slow. The business alliance not only represents the bars and restaurants, but also the people who shop and stay here. … That’s where the family-friendly idea came in, that it’s in different parts of town, not just on Washington Street.”
Before anyone places their lawn chairs on the parade route, the HBA will consider the results of the poll, which is due November 10th.
Runkle said if residents want it and the bars agree not to attend LepreCon together, the parade could go back in 2023. It seems that the administration is also on board.
“Mayor Bhalla will attempt to make an informed decision based on input from Hoboken residents and the local business community,” said city spokeswoman Marilyn Baer. “He encourages everyone involved to take part in the online survey.”
The short poll asks whether people would support the parade if taxpayers didn’t incur an additional cost; and they would be in favor of the LepreCon parade not being part of the day’s events. It also asks residents if they usually leave Hoboken on the day that LepreCon is held.
“Residents are the lifeblood of our businesses, so we want to do everything we can to encourage residents to stay in town and shop in town,” Runkle said. “That’s also where the poll came from, because it’s … the residents who might be leaving because they want to avoid the madness. … We want to make sure the residents are comfortable and on board.”