A former Grand Marshal of the Hoboken parade has accused city officials of intolerance against the Irish after they canceled the St.Patrick’s Parade.
Hoboken City and Mayor Dawn Zimmer suggested the event be moved to a Wednesday evening during March. The parade's committee decided to cancel the parade, which has been held on the first Saturday in March for the past 26 years.
Although last year there were 34 arrests and rowdy crowds, the fact that this year's parade will not go ahead has been roundly criticized by the Irish community in New Jersey.
John R.Howe, former police officer and Grand Marshal for the parade in 1997, has now written to the Hudson Reporter, a local newspaper, accusing the mayor and others of an agenda against the Irish.
Howe wrote, “My family first came to America from Ireland in 1850, fleeing hunger and an oppressive regime. They have resided in Hoboken for over 125 years. I was a policeman here and I have been a participant in the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade since its inception in 1986. In 1997 I was honored to be selected as the Parade’s 10th Grand Marshal. On the first Saturday in March 1997, I, along with my late father, my son and grand-nephew proudly led the parade down Washington St. It was a chilly, rainy dismal day but, hundreds of people still lined Washington St. to see the parade. Whenever I look at pictures from that day I can see the pride in my father’s eyes as he marched with four generations of his family.
I always thought that this tradition would continue and that other descendants of Irish Immigrants would be able to share my experience. But, apparently intolerance has once again reared its ugly head. The Irish, the first big group of refugees ever to come to the United States, have born the brunt of American resentment before and prevailed. They paved the way for the waves of immigrants that followed in their footsteps. In the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”