A Catholic Priest has slammed Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer over the cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Father Alex Santora, a local pastor, said the parade had always been a well-organized and family-oriented community event.
Writing in Our Lady of Grace church’s Sunday bulletin, he said that he personally asked the Mayor to consider holding the annual parade on a Sunday, but she refused to even consider.
“When I saw the mayor at a public event in early January, I asked her to consider allowing the parade to be held on a Sunday, which would attract fewer out of towners since Monday is a work day, and restrict the sale of alcohol for much of the day,” he wrote.
“She refused to consider it. I think an elected official has to draw the line on some matters. I am glad she pulled the welcome mat for Snooki, for example. On the parade, she could have worked out a compromise.”
He added:”I think the sign of a wise politician is learning the art of compromise. I pray she can acquire that skill some day."
Last year’s parade witnessed a high rate of anti-social behavior marred with 34 arrests, an increase of 25 from 2010. As a result Mayor Dawn Zimmer had proposed the parade take place on a Wednesday evening.
In response, the St. Patrick’s Day committee announced the cancellation of the annual parade after 26 years.
The substitute celebration dubbed Lepre-Con has attracted widespread interest, with over 15,000 people listed as "attending” on their Facebook event page.
The celebration invites attendees to dress as a leprechaun or to don their favorite green apparel and carry on the tradition of the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
Hoboken police have warned revelers they will be enforcing a “zero-tolerance” policy for the upcoming celebration, which is due to take place next Saturday March, 3 on the streets of Hoboken, in the place of the parade.
In a letter addressed to residents and visitors, Hoboken Police Chief Anthony P. Falco Sr. wrote that the full resources of the Hoboken Police Department will be used to "enforce all criminal and motor vehicle laws as well as all city ordinance violations."
Anyone caught drinking alcohol in public or with an open container of alcohol will face up to a $2,000 fine and possible community service. The same penalties will apply to those caught urinating in public.
Read the full text of the police chief's letter below:
Dear Residents and Visitors of Hoboken,
The first Saturday of March has traditionally marked the beginning of the St. Patrick’s Day season in Hoboken, and we are preparing for thousands of people to visit our beautiful city.
In past years, some of our residents and guests become disorderly and unruly making it a difficult and unpleasant day for our residents. There has been excessive damage to private property and even attacks on public safety officials. In order to keep our city under control and create a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone, I will have all of my officers working on that day, out on our streets, on patrol. We will also have assistance from multiple outside agencies, including the County Sheriff’s office.
My officers will be strictly enforcing all criminal and motor vehicle laws as well as all city ordinance violations. The Fire Department will be conducting occupancy inspections throughout the city to ensure that homes and businesses do not become dangerously overcrowded. Residents may report any concerns to the Police Department at 201-420-2100.
The following are among the more common violations where there will be a zero tolerance policy in effect for the day:
1) City Ordinance 145-23 A/B (Consumption of Alcohol/Open Container in Public)- Any person seen possessing an open container of alcohol in public faces maximum penalties of a fine up to $2,000, and the possible sentence of having to perform Community Service.
2) City Ordinance 145-22 (Urinating in Public)- Any person observed urinating on public streets, sidewalks or in parks faces maximum penalties of a fine up to $2,000, and the possible sentence of having to perform Community Service.
3) City Ordinance 145-18 (Disorderly House)- House parties have become our largest problem. In past years, most of the calls we responded to were for disorderly house parties. This year, when a party is deemed to be unreasonably reckless, disorderly and unsafe, the renter or owner of the apartment or house will be charged with violating this ordinance. Along with the issuing of the summons, the Hoboken Police Department will shut the party down and clear out the apartment or house if it is determined that a hazardous or reckless condition exists. The maximum penalties for this violation is a fine of up to $2000 and the possibility of having to perform Community Service.
4) New Jersey State Statute 2C: 33-2a (Disorderly Conduct, Improper Behavior)- A Person is guilty of disorderly conduct if “with purpose to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof he, 1) Engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior, or 2) Creates a hazardous or physically dangerous condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.” This offense carries maximum penalties of a 30 day prison term and a fine not to exceed $500.
I ask all the residents and guests of our city to please be considerate to everyone on this day, and to inform all family and friends to act respectfully and remain orderly. Once again, we want this to be an enjoyable, but more importantly, safe day. The Hoboken Police Department will do everything within their powers to keep it as such. Finally, Do Not Drink and Drive. You may injure yourself or others, and if caught, you will be arrested.
Chief Anthony P. Falco, Sr.