When I first heard that Hoboken had it's own St. Patrick's Day Parade, I was psyched. I love me some St. Patrick's Day. I'm a proud Irish girl myself, and I love parades, so what's not to like? However, as Hoboken St. Patrick's Day approached, we learned more about what this day really means for this city - it's no family friendly holiday, my friends. Rather, it's more like COLLEGE SPRING BREAK WOOHOOOOOOOOOO!
Our first clue was the ZERO TOLERANCE posters hung in nearly every bar, restaurant and shop window around town:
Sometimes the posters were decorated with festive shamrocks and such, but the message was always the same. They also made announcements over the PA in the train station. And, our apartment complex sent out a full-page memo to all residents that included the following paragraph:
We will have zero tolerance for any of the following: loud oversized parties, public drinking, intoxication, property damage, physical confrontations and/or harassment. I have informed our security/concierge staff that this letter is serving as every resident's first and only warning for unacceptable behavior. Any problems or issues that arise will result in your gathering being shut down immediately and if necessary, contacting the Hoboken Police for assistance. Any property damage or physical confrontations will result in the Hoboken Police being notified immediately and charges filed. The Hoboken Police have been given special authority by the Hoboken City Council to issue individual fines up to $2,000.00 per incident on Saturday.You know, it's just not that often that you get both underlined and bolded text in one paragraph. They mean business! Plus, they rearranged our lobby on Saturday to force people to walk past the concierge desk and sign in:
Usually one of the couches is on the other side of the coffee table, so you can get to the elevators without walking right in front of the concierge desk. Not today, though!
So, although we were still looking forward to the whole thing, we also sort of braced ourselves for some madness. And really, it wasn't so bad.
Our day started, however, when I woke up at 7:15 a.m. to the first sound of a group of people yelling outside on the street. They get going early for this shindig! Eric went for a quick run in the morning, then we went out to check things out around 12:30 that afternoon. We spent about a half hour wandering along Washington Street, taking in the atmosphere. There were lines out the door for every bar, green as far as the eye could see, and tons of little stands to buy all the green paraphernalia your little heart might desire. (Also, they decided it would be a great idea to sell those vuvuzelas you might remember from the World Cup. And they were very popular. So, whoever decided to sell those obnoxious noise makers to thousands of drunk college kids is now my MORTAL ENEMY.)
People arriving en masse from the train station
Carlo's Bakery employees sporting festive shirts for the occasion
A rather green souvenir stand
People lining up for the pubs
The parade was scheduled to begin at 1:00, so shortly before 1:00 we found a curb and settled in. It was such a difference from parades in NYC, where you need to arrive hours and hours before start time if you want to be anywhere near the street to see the action. Here, we just wandered up and plopped down on the curb right at start time. That was glorious! As we waited for the parade to reach us, we were treated to another sighting of the Hoboken Batman, who was out in full dress for the occasion.
Green stripe down Washington Street! So festive.
Waiting for the parade to start
We didn't have to wait long before things got underway. As the parade go started, more people emerged from the bars (and started hanging out apartment windows) to watch. It was a very nice little parade, with several bagpipe bands, a couple marching bands, some fife and drum groups, some floats, an appearance by Honorary Grand Marshall Buddy Valastro of TLC's Cake Boss fame (although this was somewhat contested - an Italian grand marshal of an Irish parade?! Blasphemy!), and a performance by "Sinatra Idol." And of course, the Hoboken Batman circled around for a few more appearances. (He even stopped at one point to do a jig with the bagpipes behind him - check out the video here.)
People watching the parade from apartment windows
Here they come!
I just love the sound of bagpipes.
I loved these fife and drum people.
"Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro
Keep an eye out, Cake Boss fans - judging by that camera in front of him, this will be on an upcoming episode!
A festive drum major
Pink fire truck on a beautiful Hoboken day
Here comes Batman again, followed by another pipe band
Fancy wheeled action
VIDEO: A few highlights from the parade
After the parade, we did a little more walking up and down Washington Street to take in the atmosphere. It should be noted that the day started out with absolutely gorgeous weather for a parade: 55 degrees and sunny! As the parade wore on, however, it clouded over a bit and the wind picked up, so it was a little chilly by the end.
Me amongst the shenanigans
Post-parade crowds on Washington Street
Lines to get into the liquor stores
We did see a little bit of the police crackdown. For one thing, police were EVERYWHERE. And not just uniformed officers, but undercover officers were out in full force as well. Very sneaky - that big guy next to you in the bar wearing the crude St. Patrick's Day t-shirt could very well be a cop. We witnessed a couple disturbances while we were out, but all seemed to be handled rather quickly.
Cops ready to go
A few people under arrest, and two of the three cops were undercover.
(Faces have been blurred to protect identities - innocent until proven guilty and all that.)
It was while we walked along Washington Street after the parade that I started to really feel old. I just kept thinking, "ugh, why would anyone want to pay a $20 cover to get into a super crowded bar to drink overpriced green beer and get shoved around all day?" So yeah, I'm officially a grouchy adult. I have been out of college for almost seven years now (holy cow), and clearly my days of all-day partying have long passed (not that it was a habit or anything, but you know what college is like). As I had these grumpy old woman thoughts I could feel my inner former party-self simultaneously mocking Current Me and weeping at what I have become. Sigh. But, time marches on, my friends. And this old lady just wanted to get out of the madness and go home and read a book on the couch. WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH THAT? Leave me alone, Former Self!
Yet, those crazy kids got the last laugh. Eric and I picked up lunch (cheeseteaks, yum), ate at home in our not-filled-with-a-wild-party apartment, and then settled in with our respective books for a quiet afternoon. That is, until the building's fire alarm went off, along with the little voice that comes into your apartment and says "A fire has been reported on your floor! Please evacuate immediately! Use the stairs!" So, we gathered up the dog and evacuated. Nothing much came of it, but the sirens continued through the town all night long. (I found this list of all many of the various calls for ambulances/police that was a moderately interesting read.) Eric and I joked that all the sirens made us feel like we were back at home in New York City. Those siren sounds were actually comforting as we tried to sleep, which is so sick and demented that it's probably a good thing we moved out of Manhattan when we did.
Fire trucks at our building
My evacuated boys
And that was our Hoboken St. Patrick's Day! All in all, we really enjoyed the parade and the atmosphere, although we didn't partake of the day-long drunkenness. Old people can still have fun!
(There are more pictures on my photo share site, if you didn't get enough here!)