Hal Wastes His Wages The Beast of St. Patrick Revisited – Hoboken Parade Day Visitor’s Guide

“And in the Euston Tavern you screamed it was your shout
But they wouldnt give you service so you kicked the windows out
They took you out into the street and kicked you in the brains
So you walked back in through a bolted door and did it all again
At the sick bed of Cuchulainn well kneel and say a prayer
And the ghosts are rattling at the door and the devils in the chair”

– The Pougues, “The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn”

Ugh… it’s that time of year again.

As you can tell I’m weary, so here are the top FAQ about the annual parade day in Hoboken. Call it lazy if you will, but I don’t know what else to say about this annual aneurysm. It’s one day, so let it pass. Either ignore it or try to enjoy yourself, but don’t take things too seriously. Here we go…

When is Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day?
Hoboken holds its St. Patrick’s Day celebration every year on the first Saturday in the month of March, which happens to be this Saturday, the First Day of the Third Month, Year of Our Lord Two-Thousand and Eight.

Wow, is Hoboken so full of raging drunks that it needs to have it’s own St. Patrick’s Day?
There’s actually a very sane and sober reason why Hoboken has chosen a date other than March 17 to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In order to ensure the best bands and optimum turnout, forward-thinking Hobokenites decided against competing with the world-renowned Manhattan parade that takes place on the actual date of the Feast of St. Patrick. Should Hoboken choose to celebrate the event on that day, the Hoboken parade would be nothing but Mayor Roberts riding down the street in a green VW Beetle with the top down and a couple of drunks too wasted to find the PATH train. Various towns throughout New Jersey have taken similar measures, making Hoboken the kick-off for “St. Patrick’s season,” if you will.

I heard Hoboken is nothing but a free-for-all that day. Is it true every law goes right out the window and my friends and I can run rampant through the streets?
Sorry, my young drunken anarchist friend, but you’ll find quite the opposite. Hoboken makes a lot of money that day – not just the bars, restaurants and other merchants, but the city itself. Hoboken’s Finest are certainly on the lookout and will bust anyone for anything in order to get the fines. Advise your friend from Manhattan that this is not Mardi Gras and she cannot walk down the street with an alcoholic beverage in her hand. And tell your college buddy in from Boston that he might want think twice about peeing in the middle of Washington Street, as that fine can be hefty (don’t ask me how I know that….)

What time should I get to the bar?
My advice is to get there as early as possible, or as late as possible. Most bars will open around 11 or so, and should be full by noon. They stay filled to capacity until around 11 p.m., when the Darwinism of drunkenness takes effect and the weak have all either passed out or been thrown out.

Why do bars have such long lines? Do they think it’s funny to watch people stand outside in the cold?
Believe me, bartenders/bar owners would much rather have people inside spending money than outside getting pissed off. Capacity restrictions and strict enforcement of those restrictions by the Fire Marshall on that day in particular create the situations outside the bars. See, I told you to get there early…

So bar hopping is probably a bad idea?
Pick a place and stick to it. If your buddy calls you from Mulligan’s and you’re at Nag’s Head tell him to have a nice weekend, because you’re not waiting in line again. And don’t try telling the bouncer your friends are inside because he likely doesn’t give a rat’s arse.

Once I’m in a bar, I can act like a total &!@% because the bar staff are lucky to have me.
Think again, tool. Last thing you want is to get kicked out of a bar you just waited an hour and a half to get into. Keep in mind that you’re just taking up space, and there are hundreds of others standing right outside who could fill that space should you be asked to vacate it. Take it easy, folks – be good or be gone is in full effect.

Sounds like a real pain. Should I just have a house party instead?
Any seasoned veteran of these things will tell you that house parties are the only way to go. If you don’t have a house party to go to, throw your own. If you can’t do that, find two of your best looking girl friends and begin walking around Hoboken. If you walk more than two blocks without being catcalled, have them take their jackets off.

I should wait until Saturday to buy all my liquor, right?
That’s like waiting until the blizzard starts to buy the rock salt. You know it’s coming, you know how big it is, you know the demand will be huge. Get all you can while you can, or else you’ll be stuck buying out all the store’s remaining Zima and a plastic jughandle of Senator’s Club Vodka. Woooooo!!! PAR-TAY!!!

Gee, all those people doing all that drinking packed into a square mile. That seems like a great day to drive into Hoboken.
I would strenuously suggest you and your friends take advantage of the various public transportation opportunities Hoboken has to offer. And as always, DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE. If common sense isn’t enough to stop you, rest assured there will be roadblocks at either end of town.

Other nuggets of wisdom to keep in mind:

“Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons will get you nowhere with the ladies.

There is no “Official” Beer of St. Patrick’s Day. Despite all its recent financial difficulties, the Catholic Church has yet to seek corporate sponsorship of its saints’ feast days (though it may only be a matter of time…)

The same goes for “Official” St. Patrick’s Day Headquarters – as if that stinky dive down the street with the broken urinal would actually be the epicenter of the world’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Ask any brewer and they’ll tell you -when a beer turns green it’s a BAD thing.

Asking a bartender to put a shamrock on the top of a well-poured Guinness is like asking Da Vinci to put a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

Serving Guinness in a plastic cup is a travesty, no matter how busy the bar is and the plural of Guinness is Guinness, not Guinnesses.

Not only is the “Irish Car Bomb” (a pint glass half full of Guinness with a shot glass of Bailey’s and Jameson dropped in) an appalling name for a drink, the waste of Guinness and Jameson in some novelty shooter is nothing short of blasphemy.

More often than not, Irish people (by that, I mean people born and raised in Ireland) couldn’t give a rat’s arse what town your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather left during the Potato Famine.

The stereotype of drunken Irish bar-fighters applies mostly to Irish-Americans.

The Irish pastime of hurling is not what most people in this country think it means.

No matter what you may have heard or read, a traditional Irish breakfast DOES NOT consist of a six-pack and a potato.

There is no “siesta” napping on the bar for St. Patrick’s Day – you have that confused with Cinco de Mayo, which is two months away.

No, I’d rather not wear a silly plastic green hat while I’m working, but thanks for the offer.

Despite all my bitches, gripes and complaints, I’m well aware that there’s a lot of earning of the green that goes along with the wearing of the green. So it looks like I’ll once again have to “Er-Grin ‘n’ Go Bear-it” as I look forward to the pot o’ gold at the end o’ me rainbow–the long, messy rainbow that it is. In the meantime, may the road rise to meet the rest o’ ye, and Sláinte–from the bitter bollocks behind the bar.

Christopher M. Halleron, freelance writer/bitter bartender, writes a biweekly humor column for The Hudson Current and websites in the New York Metro area. He spends a lot of his time either in front of or behind the bar in Hoboken, New Jersey where his tolerance for liquor grows stronger as his tolerance for society is eroded on a daily basis. Feel free to drop him a line at c_halleron@yahoo.com.


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