A Note: This piece was originally in NYU's Inquiring Minds blog on March 7, 2011 and is being re-published by the author in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.
Washington Street spewed green this Saturday as Hoboken, New Jersey celebrated its 25th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Though the holiday falls on March 17, there was no lack of Irish spirit amidst this frenzied town.
A stroll down Washington Street at 9 a.m. revealed blocks of already crowded bars, some charging up to $50 for entrance. With the temperature in the upper 50s, thousands set out in their short-sleeved, green apparel for the parade at 1 p.m. A staggering man trying to give away his pizza greeted Edward Gars, a regular parade attendee and student at Rutgers University, outside Sullivan’s Bar.
Though he jokes about the increased likelihood of "roofied" pizza, Gars enjoys the hectic atmosphere. “Everyone makes a fool of themselves and no one cares,” said Gars. “And I love the green pizza.” Benny Todinos, a local pizza shop, baked green food coloring into the crust, a simple color change that results in a line extended down the block.
The enthusiasm for the parade was not limited to New Jersey inhabitants, however. Jessica Brown, a junior at NYU, took the PATH train the night before to stay with friends in anticipation of the festivities. “I love everyone getting out on the street,” said Brown. “From little kids with bobbing clovers on their heads, to drunken youth, all the way to the die-hard men in those awesome Irish outfits.”
Some parade goers did not reciprocate the crowd’s sentiments for the festival. “I remember liking parades when I was younger,” said Sam Crown, a resident of Hoboken for 33 years, “but I thought it was too much for me—too noisy, too many kids drinking, and just not as enjoyable as I had hoped.”
Though opinion on the celebration is bipolarized, public drunkenness has posed a problem in Hoboken during past parades. Mayor Dawn Zimmer imposed a “zero-tolerance” policy on public drinking, public urination, disorderliness and unruly house parties, resulting in a number of advertisements for costly apartment bathrooms. Despite the risk of confirmed fines of up to $2000 and mandated community service, police sirens sounded throughout the day.
Christopher Edward, a senior at Stevens Institute of Technology, commented on the aftereffects of the day’s events. His apartment complex, littered with half-empty beer bottles and shattered glass, echoed with the noise of various parties. Despite returning home to a now “tad messy” residence, his first experience with the Hoboken parade is positive. “It was pretty cool how everybody, even though not Irish, felt like a part of a group that had something in common,” said Edward. “The alcohol infused atmosphere was definitely very relaxing.”
Edward’s roommate, Drew Durf, avoided hectic street traffic by grilling sausages on his 4th floor balcony. “I love seeing the girls dressed up, but I can’t deal with the cover charges,” said Durf. “I can enjoy myself here for free.”