Around 460 AD, a man named Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland; in 1762, long after he became one of Christianity’s most recognized saints, New York City held the first parade in his honor. On the other side of the Hudson, however, is where the real celebrations for St. Patrick have been for over twenty years.
Hoboken claims to host one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in New Jersey, and this year will be no exception. Mark your calendars early, though, as Hoboken isn’t a town that follows the norm. This parade is always held on the first Saturday of March in order to beat out New York City for the best performers and the most celebratory spectators-this year, on Saturday, March 7, 2009, beginning at 1 p.m., the parade will kick off at 14th and Washington Streets and head south on Washington, with a reviewing stand in front of City Hall (Washington and First Streets).
The Hoboken parade was first held in 1986, led by the late George W. Crimmins, Sr., Chief of the Hoboken Police Department, when a few hundred spectators stood by. Today, many more will flock to Hoboken from all over the tri-state area. Perhaps Queens residents and Pennsylvanians, among others, come to see the pipe and drum bands, step dancers, and other talented performers that will march in the parade. Or perhaps it is because of the nearly twenty Irish pubs in the mile-square town, in addition to more than fifty other bars in Hoboken that will help the Irish (and the Irish wannabes) celebrate a day of green beer and Erin Go Bragh. Hoboken boasts a strong drinking scene on most weekends of the year, but on what is colloquially known as Hoboken St. Patty’s Day, the revelers come out in throngs-before noon-to get into the bars. Bars are known to open at 11 a.m.-and some with lines outside the door two hours beforehand.
For those of you who like to drink in celebration, be forewarned: “The police department will strictly enforce (zero tolerance) violations of the open alcoholic beverages ordinances as well as DWI statutes. DWI checkpoints will be assembled in selected locations as per state guidelines,” according to a press release issued by Daniel Simone, Jr., Captain of Police of the Hoboken Police Department. He’s not messing around, either. According to nj.com, 188 summonses were issued at last year’s parade, with 12 parade-related arrests. That summons carries a $1,000 fine, issued to the obvious public drinkers and the not-so-obvious: those sneaking their intoxicants in coffee cups were caught as well. Apparently, the stench of vodka trumps the bitter smells of coffee. Alas, many bloggers have disagreed with the idea that Hoboken has cleaned up its parade act, but it’s best to be safe-and stay legal.
The parade is held by a committee of family and friends, rather than the city, and in preparation, there is but one fundraiser: on February 22, 2009 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Annual Irish Party will be held at Our Lady of Grace School Hall. At $50 per ticket, the party features a hot corned beef and cabbage dinner, an open bar, and live entertainment from the traditional Irish band Round the House. Reservations are encouraged, according to the committee website, and tickets can be purchased by contacting one of the following members: Joan, at 201-420-8127 or John, at 201-420-7842, or Helen, at email@example.com.
For those who liken St. Patrick’s Day to a religious holiday, rather than an excuse for ear-thumping pipes and drums and green beer-related debauchery, the committee holds an Irish mass the week prior to the parade, on Saturday, February 28, 2009, at 5 p.m. at Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken.
On parade day in Hoboken, however, having a good time and celebrating the Irish is everyone’s top priority. And with parking already hard to find along the slim streets, the task only becomes harder when the town’s main street is blocked off for parade-goers. It is advised that everyone use public transportation when possible, and bonus: no need to worry about those DWI checkpoints. Check the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey website or GoogleMaps’s public transporation function to find your quickest route. Once you arrive, enjoy the parade, then stick around for a Guiness or two (if you can get through the door of a bar, that is).
1. Introduction, St. Patrick’s Day, history.com
2. Hoboken St. Patrick’s Parade Committee
3. Hoboken’s Irish Pubs, Hoboken-bar.net
5. HobokenNow, nj.com
6. Saint Patrick’s Day Parade