A New Jersey Municipality’s Crackdown on “Lepre-con” Festivities

Men are urinating on parked cars on the street; civilians are brawling with law enforcement officers outside of bars. No, these are not just teenagers, and I am not referring to the aftermath of an out of control rock-and-roll concert. I am talking about the Saint Patrick’s Day celebration held in Hoboken during the first weekend of March.

This Saint Paddy’s Day affair, which has cleverly been coined “Lepre-con,” has gained quite a bit of notoriety over the last couple of years due to the boisterous crowd and excessive amount of summonses issued during the festivities. The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which had roughly a twenty-five year run in Hoboken before its cancellation in 2012, was done in an effort to reel in the revelers determined to paint the town red-or should I say green?

The parade’s cancellation has resulted in less arrests and issued summonses, but has not significantly impacted the still-high number of individuals ticketed for charges such as: Driving While Intoxicated, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50; Disorderly Conduct, N.J.S.A. 2C33-2A; resisting arrest/obstruction of justice, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2; and lewdness/ urinating in public N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2b.

In order to deter future offenders, city officials implemented a zero-tolerance policy and judges have doubled fines and other penalties. Sentences generally include mandatory community service and a fine. Fines, which ordinarily would have cost an individual $500.00, were increased to as much as $2000.00 for a single offense.

Whether the city’s zero tolerance policy will succeed in diminishing the number of summonses and arrests for next year is questionable, but what seems clear is parade, or no parade, Hoboken’s celebration of all things Irish will remain.