St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and this year, Hoboken residents and visitors will have several opportunities to celebrate the holiday. Over the years, the reputation of Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day has become legendary — albeit somewhat controversial. What was once a day that celebrated a 26-year tradition and hosted NJ’s biggest parade, turned into a day filled with arrests, public drunkenness, and chaos for law enforcement. Some say the celebrations had gotten out of hand, while others miss the Hoboken St. Patty’s Day festivities. There are several events taking place in 2023 — some sponsored by the town or local businesses, and some that are organized by a third party founded in Hoboken. So whatever your St. Patty’s preference, we’ve got the details here. Read on to learn more about the history of St. Patrick’s Day in Hoboken and what we know about this year’s celebrations.
History of the Parade
Hoboken has been a seat for celebrating Irish culture and traditions for a very long time, owing to the large population of Irish immigrants who settled in Hoboken, starting in the 1840s.
Hoboken held an annual St. Patrick’s Day parade throughout the city from 1986 to 2012. The parade was originally a 14-block march that began on 14th and Washington Street and ended on 1st and Washington Street. In its 26-year history, it was New Jersey’s largest parade and drew spectators from throughout the Tristate area. Many of the town’s organizations and clubs participated in the parade, such as the Hoboken High School Rockin’ Redwings Band (as well as other high school bands), marching pipe bands, traditional Irish dancers, antique cars, fire trucks, cultural organizations, and nominated honorees for Irish Man and Woman of the Year, Firefighter of the Year, Police Officer of the Year, and more.
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Traditionally, the parade was always held on the first Saturday of every March, but in an attempt to maintain the rowdiness that occurred during the festivities, former Mayor Dawn Zimmer moved the parade to a Wednesday. Ultimately, the decision was made to cancel it indefinitely in 2012, due to the overwhelming popularity that made it difficult to ensure public safety.
Behind the Bar Crawl
The LepreCon Crawl is a privately-organized event, coordinated by Pubcrawls.com, that quickly took the place of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Per its name, it’s a Hoboken bar crawl held on the first Saturday in March. The event became known as a cause of public drunkenness and bar fights, leading to arrests, hospital visits, local complaints, and other issues. Per TapInto, the presence of law enforcement was increased in an effort to curb rowdiness, especially after the crawl’s one-year hiatus during the pandemic. Increasing police presence and publicizing fines have reportedly helped decrease issues to an extent, though the event is still frowned upon by many local residents and businesses.
The City of Hoboken has been trying to crack down on this event. Mayor Bhalla has urged both residents and businesses not to participate — though many local businesses say that participation is crucial to keep business afloat during a slow season. The city started celebrating Irish-American Heritage Month with a flag-raising ceremony on Wednesday, March 1st, at 11AM on the front steps of City Hall, 94 Washington Street.
Hoboken Celebration in 2023
Community St. Patrick’s Day Float
The Hoboken Business Alliance (HBA) performed a survey in fall 2022 of residents and business owners about what the celebration should look like. In a recent press release, the organization announced the survey results and a new version of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Roxanne Earley, Executive Director of the HBA shared some of the results of a recent survey that showed 78% of respondents to be in favor of bringing back the annual parade in a family-inclusive way.
“While poll results can sometimes be hard to read and interpret, the response to this survey could not have been clearer,” Roxanne said. “Hoboken residents are excited to have St. Patrick’s Day festivities return to the city, but they also recognize that the impact of past parades, specifically the unsanctioned events that followed that were not in line with the image we want to portray.”
On Saturday, March 4th, the Hoboken Business Alliance (HBA) will host a St. Patrick’s Day float that will travel through the Mile Square, making stops along the way for performances at three locations known for their heavy foot traffic. It is a celebration of Irish music and heritage.
Original Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Bar Event – Cancelled
The Original Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day was also going to take place on Saturday, March 4th — but in light of recent events, it has been canceled. All tickets purchased will be refunded. A coalition of Hoboken bars and restaurants organized the “Original” celebration. The same group of restaurants that planned The Original also got together to host HoHoHoboken in December 2022 to provide an alternative celebration to SantaCon. Participating locations addressed public safety concerns with initiatives that included limiting the number of tickets sold and communicating with the City of Hoboken. The event also had a charitable aspect, as a fundraiser for TRUE Mentors, a non-profit organization that helps young adults reach their full potential.
Gary Yip, co-owner of several participating venues and founder of Hoboken Hospitality was spearheading the organization of the event. Before the event was canceled, he shared, “I’m proud to work alongside my fellow business owners in listening to the voice of our community and creating an experience that Hoboken can be proud of.”
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The venues that were participating in The Original Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day celebration included 80 River, Birch, Black Bear Bar + Grill, Bobbleheads Saloon, Green Rock Tap + Grill, McSwiggans Pub, Mike’s Wild Moose Saloon, Mills Tavern, Tally-Ho, Texas Arizona Bar + Grill, Fat Taco, The Stewed Cow, The Brass Rail, Union Hall, The Lola, and Wicked Wolf.
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There was also going to be a fundraising aspect to this event, with a portion of ticket sales going to a local Hoboken charity. The Original St. Patrick’s Day event is not affiliated with any organization outside of Hoboken and every aspect of the event was organized, supervised, and funded by the coalition.
The Official St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl, Luck Of The Irish Pub Crawl, + St. Paddy’s Shamrock Stroll – Still on
Pubcrawls.com is a nationwide events company that was founded in Hoboken. According to co-founders Damon Trifeletti and Joe DeFilippo, the company started in 1991 and started organizing events in Hoboken in 2008. “We’re the largest pub crawl company in the world, with over 200 cities in America. Since we’re from Hoboken, we take a lot of pride to make it special,” they said.
Revelers will have four chances to celebrate with the events put on by Pubcrawls.com. The Official St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl on Saturday, March 4th + Friday, March 17th, The Luck of the Irish Pub Crawl on Saturday, March 11th, and the Shamrock Stroll on Saturday, March 18th. During all four events, drink specials and other perks will be available at participating venues. Participants must have tickets in advance, which begin at $20 per person. “We have 12 bars signed up now, and we expect to have 15 by the time things get started,” the organizers shared.
“The goal of the event is to give the customer value for their ticket and a great experience. Our goal is to make it as fun as possible and give a tremendous amount of value,” they said. “We try to work with everyone and want to ensure that there’s a good experience for customers. We’ll have giveaways, contests, drink specials, and other fun things for participants. We want people to have a great time in Hoboken and keep coming back to Hoboken.”
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