Controversy has raged over the parade for the last several years, as a traditional event became overshadowed by young people coming into town on parade day to crowd bars and drink at house parties.
The parade was always held on the first Saturday of March so that it could have its pick of bands and performers, rather than waiting until the actual day of St. Patrick's.
After another year of many arrests and more than one report of a rape, the mayor said in 2011 that she would only approve a parade for a Wednesday, with the hopes of quelling the usual partying in Hoboken on a Saturday.
On Friday, the parade committee announced that they were canceling the event for this year, and had harsh words for the current admiistration. They said they did not want to march on a weekday, and said that it seemed that the city could not adequately protect the parade-goers.
In response, the mayor delievered a speech at a press conference Friday afternoon. The following is the entire text:
Unfortunately the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee made the decision that if they could not have their St. Patrick’s Day parade on a Saturday two weeks before St. Patrick’s Day, they would rather not have it at all. This is an unfortunate decision, and as a result the city will continue to move ahead with planning an event that celebrates our city’s Irish heritage. An announcement will be made when plans are finalized.
I told the parade committee in person and in writing last March that due to public safety concerns the parade must be held during the week to protect our community.
The parade has been a beautiful event that honors the tradition of Hoboken’s Irish heritage, and I have proudly marched in it every year since I became an elected official.
Unfortunately the aftermath of the parade feels like an uncontrollable siege of our community.
Last year it reached a fever pitch with high levels of property damage, urination on the streets and on people’s homes, sexual assaults, and flower pots were even thrown on our firemen when they responded to a call.
One resident told me that her antique stained glass door survived the riots in Hoboken decades ago, but it did not survive Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day when a frustrated partygoer chose to smash the door so that he could get into a party.
Since their announcement, I have been receiving emails, phone calls, and texts of support asking me to please stand strong to protect our community.
I want to assure our residents today that I will never compromise on public safety.
Last year we had every police officer possible on duty, we had the sheriff’s office, NJ Transit and Port Authority and other municipalities assisting us with security, and with all of that assistance we could not handle the situation. If it feels like I have to bring in the National Guard to deal with an event to protect our residents, then we just have to make a change.
I fully recognize that even though the parade committee has cancelled the parade, we must still be fully prepared for the worst case scenario. I want to assure residents that we will have a full level of security, backed by other agencies, to ensure the highest level of public safety protection for our residents.
I thank the parade committee for their longstanding commitment to our community. I hope that they will reconsider joining my Administration in planning a safe event that honors our City’s Irish heritage.