When Zero Tolerance is not enough
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten as much mail as I’ve gotten in the days after last weekend’s parade fiasco. I want to share some of these with you in the hopes that it will give you an idea of how violated Hobokenites feel after 30,000 visitors use our city as a drunken stopover, dumping all manner of waste on our streets and wreaking havoc on citizens and city services, including police and firefighters, who were subjected to violence as they tried to do their jobs. Here’s a small sampling of some of the comments. I have removed the names to maintain the individuals’ privacy.:
“The St Patrick Day event in Hoboken has gotten WAY out of hand. Hoboken prostitutes itself annually to accommodate the event. This year, there were rapes, gun violence, etc. Do you need further evidence that the parade has become nothing more that a drunken orgy? There is no benefit to the taxpayers of Hoboken from this event. For most, it is an extreme inconvenience. Granted, local businesses may a fortune – at taxpayers’ expense. Why even continue such a blantantly ridiculous event?I urge you and the City Council to ban this event next year. If you want a parade to honor the Irish, then do it on a weekday and avoid this stupidity in years to come.”
“I live in the 3rd ward and all I heard the whole day is sirens, people screaming, blowing horns and cursing in front of my apartment all day and night. You can’t say this was a “tame” Saturday when our police force, fire department, city workers, etc. were overworked. I don’t understand how bars and business owners come before Hoboken citizens. Maybe I don’t pay property taxes because I rent, but I still have a voice and concerns. I’ve lived here for 58 years and never have I seen such a disgrace as this city puts on once a year. Yes it’s once a year, but it’s the longest day of the year. I’ve read and heard a young woman was raped this year. Is the city going to wait until someone dies here before they take action? I’m hoping our representatives will come to some sort of agreement and stop this madness for all concerned.”
“I am a resident of the 3rd Ward – 4th District. I usually don’t write complaint letters but I feel I must let you know my feelings about the recent St. Patrick’s Day. This year it was a total unruly mess in our ward. I have never seen so many inebriated people and so many out of control house parties. I think it is a disgrace that in a town like ours this permitted to go on. The police, fire department and Hoboken ambulance Corps, did a wonderful job in answering as many calls as possible but even they could not be in all places. It is truly a shame that such a beautiful parade cannot be enjoyed by the residents – you literally took your life in your hands walking around down here. I personally think that since we pay such exorbant taxes in this town – we should have a say in what goes on. I was very upset when I saw on the news yesterday the Mayor being interviewed by Channel 2 News and she said how this event was enjoyed by all and everything was going well and everyone was enjoying themselves. I could not believe this statement!. Maybe she should have taken a walk around downtown to see the results of this debacle. The parade should be moved to a weekday or we should think about banning house parties.”
“I write as a resident of the 3rd Ward and as a concerned citizen regarding the events surrounding this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. While I support the City of Hoboken having events to honour the heritage of its residents, including in the form or parades, festivals, etc., it is my personable belief, based on experience, that the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and consequential post-parade atmosphere have moved far beyond anything akin to a family friendly event that pays homage to our residents of Irish descent and to civic pride. In stark contrast to the city’s art and music festivals, Hoboken’s St. Patrick’s Day has degenerated into a bacchanalian nightmare for the law abiding families and tax paying residents of the city. A quick perusal of the police blotter from that day provides ample evidence that the event has become completely unmanageable and is a clear and present threat to the public welfare and to the safety of our residents. My wife (who incidentally is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland and quite proud of her heritage) and I can personally attest to this fact, having been subjected to harassment on the streets by intoxicated celebrants and having witnessed acts of public urination and similar defilements, as well as aggressive and belligerent behaviour. Even our little 16 pound dog was not immune to harassment, and all of this while simply walking home in the immediate aftermath of the parade and while running local errands.”
This is just a small sample of the mail I received this week. Clearly, action needs to be taken. I support the mayor’s moving of the parade to a weekday, but we need more than that to quell the anger among residents. 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano has presented several proposals which represent a good start. I believe our entire community should be heard on this issue and I will push for a working public session to get the ball rolling. Enough is enough. We need to take our town back!