Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hoboken St Patrick's Day Parade ≠ Trash Hoboken Day

On Friday, the Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee released a letter canceling this year's parade. Nevertheless, at least one local bar and restaurant promoter is actively encouraging tens of thousands of non-residents to descend upon Hoboken for the traditional public urination and puke-fest known as Trash Hoboken Day.

Trash Hoboken Day has traditionally fallen on a weekend, the same day as Hoboken's St. Patrick's Day parade. But after last year's nationally publicized debacle, City Hall decided that the parade must be moved to a weekday. In their disingenuous letter to Hoboken residents, the Parade Committee made it clear that they would not consider holding the parade on any day other than Trash Hoboken Day. So they quit.

In the ensuing public debate on the city's various blogs, the main topic of discussion isn't about canceling the parade, but about canceling Trash Hoboken Day. But Trash Hoboken Day doesn't appear to have been canceled. Because people are actively promoting it, City Hall has no choice but to plan for the onslaught.

What about the parade? Why is the parade committee so insistent that the parade happen on Trash Hoboken Day? Many local residents don't even bother to attend the parade anymore because of the unruly drunks, and many of the unruly drunks don't even know there is a parade. That the parade committee genuinely considered holding the parade on a different day is not apparent in their letter. The only stated "reason" against holding the parade on a weekday is that it will be dark, which is false. For example, darkness falls in Hoboken between 7pm and 7:30pm on Wednesday March 14.

I know that not all Hoboken residents of Irish descent agree with the parade committee's decision. Not only that, there are plenty of Hoboken residents of non-Irish descent who enjoy "being Irish for a day," sharing in a celebration of Hoboken's rich Irish history.

Rather than attempting to compete with NYC's massive St. Patrick's Day parade, Hoboken's celebration could distinguish itself by having a more local focus. The parade could feature the High School marching band, local step dancers, prominent members of the Irish community, and the police and fire departments marching alongside. Afterwards we could all raise a few pints at the local pubs and restaurants, attend an Irish play at a local playhouse, attend a reading of Irish literature, or attend a lecture on Hoboken's Irish history. Yes, it's a marked contrast to Trash Hoboken Day, but that's the idea. Why can't we celebrate Hoboken's Irish heritage without inviting tens of thousands of outsiders to vomit and urinate on our streets, throw beer bottles at pedestrians from roof tops, and assault our police officers and fire fighters?

I encourage all prominent members of Hoboken's Irish community to consider forming a new parade committee. A committee that believes celebrating Irish heritage needn't be equated with trashing Hoboken. A committee who believes that Hoboken can celebrate its Irish heritage, regardless of the day of the week.