Saturday’s hotly anticipated ‘Lepre-Con’ in Hoboken, the bar crawl organized in response to the cancellation of the traditional Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day, ran with both heavy police presence and heavy party presence in the city a mere one stop ride away from New York City.
Lepre-Con drew revellers from near and far to join in on the celebrations. The event, which was largely organized through social media outlets, came as a sort of rebellious response to the cancellation of the annual Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day parade in the wake of heightened crime rate at the 2011 event.
After bar owners decided to not open their doors until 11am earlier in the week, the organizers of Lepre-Con announced that there would be a Lepre-Con pregame just across the Hudson at the bar Feile on W 33rd in New York City. Scheduled from 8am through 10:30am, Feile offered drink and breakfast specials to get party-goers warmed up for the long day to follow in Hoboken.
Party-goers then flocked to Hoboken decked out in the 40 shades of green, and then some. Costumes varied from modest to wild - green t-shirts to full green spandex bodysuits wandered the streets of Hoboken on Saturday all looking to share in a good time.
The cancellation of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day in Hoboken by Mayor Dawn Zimmer riled hot criticism from many, including local business owners, and Irish cultural groups all the way down to those who were simply upset to see one of the greatest party days of the year in the area to be cancelled.
In response to the mostly unpopular cancellation, organizers of Lepre-Con, a spinoff of the NYC Christmas bar-crawl SantaCon, proudly proclaimed on their website that "YOU CAN CANCEL THE PARADE, BUT YOU CAN'T CANCEL THE PARTY!!"
Prior to yesterday, organizers got the ball rolling for the replacement event by offering details about which bars would be offering specials throughout the day, and even selling t-shirts for the event.
When numbers for those attending began to reach huge numbers (over 18,000 people had confirmed their attendance via Facebook), organizers of Lepre-Con scrapped the typical bar-crawl format originally planned for the day and opted instead for special deals at bars in Hoboken for those who were dressed up enough.
The official Lepre-Con website also elaborated how bars were “playing their cards close to their chest” in regards to releasing the exact figures for cover charges. Higher cover charges tend to mean a decrease in “bar-hopping,” or people switching between bars, thus not providing a steady flow of money to any one bar. Lepre-Con organizers said they were doing their best with bar owners to keep the cover charges manageable.
Similarly, by getting people into the bars and - through cover charges - keeping them in the bars, the number of house parties should go down, which played a huge factor in the cancellation of the parade this year by the city of Hoboken. House parties provided private spaces for people to become irresponsibly drunk, adding fuel to the fire of misbehavior during the day.
One attendee, Shannon Farrell, however disagreed. While she definitely enjoyed the day of pre-St. Patrick’s Day fun in Hoboken, she wasn’t so pleased with the overall cost of it financially.
So, the big question - did Hoboken’s revellers actually behave this year?
“I found that as drunk as everyone was, in general people conducted themselves well,” said one recent college graduate who made the trek from upstate New York to celebrate the day with friends.
“There was definitely a strong police presence but people knew they were going to be there so they were mindful of that and conscious of their behavior. As long as you didn’t make a spectacle of yourself, the police didn’t bother you,” the recent grad said.
Hoboken411 provided a live tracker of police reports throughout the day, and ultimately noted that the “good” part of Lepre-Con was that there “the severity of the nonsense was likely only 25% of what it was during previous parade years.”
Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who came under fierce criticism for originally moving the parade to a weeknight in hopes of curbing the high crime rate of last year and then ultimately cancelled it altogether, even seemed pleased with the party-goers’ behavior.
Zimmer tweeted (@dawnzimmernj) yesterday “Just walked from north Hob to south & first street and everything seems under control. Thank u so much to all the public safety officials!”
While officials tallies on crimes weren’t available yet on Sunday, the New York Times reports that there was a palpable decrease from last year’s high rates of crime.
The entire Hoboken police force was on duty and was also supplemented by an additional 140 officers from neighboring towns.
With the better track record for this year, many are hoping to see the parade make a return for 2013.
Mary Cunning, whose family organizes the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Hoboken, said to the New York Times that despite the generally well-received events of Saturday, she was still disappointed about the lack of the parade.
“The crowds were there,” she said, “but the spirit was gone.”
What do you think? Will Hoboken see the return of its St. Patrick’s Day parade next year?