The Hoboken St. Patrick’s Parade Committee announced last week that they have canceled the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for this year, citing “the city of Hoboken’s inability to protect our spectators, bands and participants.”
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 St. Patrick’s Day. But last year, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer announced that the parade would be moved to a Wednesday for 2012 in hopes of stemming the party atmosphere.
However, some residents believed people would still come into town on the first Saturday of March to party, as well on the actual St. Patrick’s Day, which will fall on a Saturday this year.
Apparently, behind-the-scenes conflicts over what to do for the actual parade have led to what the committee called a “heartbreaking decision” in a letter released on their website.
The parade committee said that “The idea of marching in a parade, in the dark, on a weeknight, is as insulting as it is unreasonable ... we love our city too much to lower ourselves to the level of those who speak from a place of ignorance and ethnic/religious intolerance.”
The letter adds, “We chose not to go to court and not to continue to negotiate over the heavy-handedness of one person.” It also says the parade has gone on for 26 years and that other communities have invited them to hold the parade there. “Evidently, there are some elected officials elsewhere in the state who have figured out how to protect their residents during ethnic, religious and other celebrations,” the letter says.
It notes, “We are not ‘St. Patrick’s Day Irish.’ We are committed, proud, and blessed with long memories.” They invited everyone to worship at an Irish Mass celebrating St. Patrick on Feb. 25 at Our Lady of Grade Church.
On Friday afternoon, Mayor Zimmer held a press conference at City Hall to respond to news of the cancelation.
She said: “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.”
She added, “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.
“Since their announcement, I have been receiving emails, phone calls, and texts of support asking me to please stand strong to protect our community. 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.”
She said, “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.”
For more on this story, see hudsonreporter.com.