Ahhh, March 5th. I wake to the striped pattern of sunshine slanting through my window shades and the smell of eggs, bacon and Jameson in the lazy morning air. That’s right, folks. It’s St. Pa-… What’s that? St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until March 17th? Ah, fuck it. Let’s make some memories.
For those previously unaware, St. Paddy’s Day [NOT St. Patty’s Day, you heathens] has essentially become a monthlong celebration in many cities across the U.S., especially in Irish-American epicentres such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. This year, the first weekend in March brought a massive Irish pub crawl to Philadelphia (The Erin Express will be discussed in further detail later this week) and a Harpoon Brewery Irish festival to Boston. These events were undoubtedly loud, the Jameson flowed freely and fields of Kelly green t-shirts stretched as far as the eye could see, but at least in my opinion, the biggest and best choice for this weekend is the Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Each year, tens of thousands of visitors flock to this New York City neighbor with the intention of getting an early jump on a day where it’s not only okay to be drunk and merry by noon, it’s expected. For me, as was the case for most of my fellow party-goers, the main event in Hoboken was not the parade but rather the innumerable house parties. Whether it be randomly or planned, Hoboken is a great opportunity to reunite with old college and high school friends over a glass of room temperature green beer. Each house you visit and each side street you traverse represents another chance for an unexpected encounter with an elementary school crush or a microeconomics group project partner (I saw both). In this way, Hoboken St. Paddy’s Day is a sort of Mardi Gras/Class Reunion hybrid that I have really looked forward to each of the past three years.
There is, however, a darker side to this day. Though it has certainly grown as a place of residence for many young professionals working in and around Manhattan, Hoboken has traditionally been a typical town full of families and elderly inhabitants. Increasingly over the past five to ten years, however, the parade has transformed from a family-friendly celebration of the area’s Irish heritage into the college festival I described above. Many older attendees now watch the parade with an underlying sense of apprehension instead of the carefree excitement that had defined the event until recently. Just yesterday, Hoboken’s Mayor, Dawn Zimmer, announced her hopes of moving the two-and-a-half decade-old parade from it’s traditional Saturday date to a weekday such as Wednesday because of the out-of-control antics that now dominate the day.
This is not to say that the two parties can not share in the fun and revelry of St. Patrick’s Day. The burden of compromise, however, lies mainly on the shoulders of the young out-of-towners and their equally culpable Hoboken party hosts. Though young Americans, myself included, have proven on countless occasions that semi-responsible drinking and respect for property are outside of their comprehension, Hoboken represents a different situation than other popular drinking events as it is, at heart, a beloved family tradition and not simply an excuse to drop all morals and consideration for others. Remember: we are guests at their parade.
In the end, this is my advice: Tap a keg. Be merry. Dance to Dropkick Murphys. Hug or high-five a stranger. Raise a shot of whiskey to Ireland. But 34 arrests and 166 hospital visits? Come on… cut that shit out.
Homemade whiskey; illicit distilled liquor (Jazz-Age slang circa 1925)
“That first shot of Jameson at 10 AM always tastes like panther piss.”