Hoboken police gear up for Lepre-con Day’s ‘drunken bedlam’ next weekend

HOBOKEN – The Hoboken Police Department says it’s ready for the bedlam that is sure to ensue at the forthcoming Lepre-con Day next weekend.
During the citywide pub crawl, held the first Saturday of every March in Hoboken, young patrons visit the mile-square city to “bar-hop” for drink specials throughout town in conjunction with the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day. At the same time, some residents tend to hold house parties in town starting as early as 9 a.m. The events are independently run and not sponsored by the city.
The all-day celebration arose four years ago as a reaction to the cancelation of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a 25-year Hoboken tradition that used to be held the first Saturday in March to avoid competition for bands with other towns’ parades around the holiday. After young residents increasingly used the day to throw parties, Mayor Dawn Zimmer asked the independent St. Patrick’s Parade Committee to move the parade to a weekday evening. The committee refused and ultimately canceled the parade. Individuals decided to continue the celebration on their own by organizing bar crawls on that day each year.
Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante told the Hoboken Reporter that he headed to an agency-wide meeting this past Tuesday to discuss preparations for the typically chaotic weekend. All 200 of Hoboken’s police officers will work on Lepre-con Day, he said.
“We’ll be very proactive in trying to eliminate disputes,” Ferrante said. “We’ll be attacking the quality-of-life complaints like drinking in public and disorderly behavior. We’ve already been proactive with the bars where we have our ABC unit visiting, doing inspections, and telling them what we expect on that day.”
The chief said crime numbers on the day have been waning in recent years. In 2015, 95 tickets were issued, 39 ambulance calls and a total of 11 arrests were made. That same year, a homeless man set himself on fire the middle of the road at Bloomfield and Fourth streets, but the matter was said to be unconnected to the pub crawl.
In addition to Hoboken policemen, as well as Union City, North Bergen, and Westfield police officers, the Hudson County Rapid Deployment Force will be on hand.
“That team is made of police officers of every city in the county and they offer civil services. They’re brought in case we get that large fight, so they’re usually utilized a few times that day,” the police chief explained.
What used to be a 12-16-hour period of “insanity,” Ferrante said, has decreased to an eight-hour block near Washington Street where drunken bouts and disorderly conduct is most common. He said that cooperative bar owners, with whom the Police Department has maintained a constructive relationship, have largely served as a helpful tool in anticipation of any fights or disputes.
Ferrante, who said he plans to post updates on Twitter throughout the day, encourages locals and city visitors to exercise caution that weekend.

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