HOBOKEN (CBSNewYork) – To many, the first Saturday in March means an early Saint Patrick’s Day in New Jersey.
On March 2, Hoboken residents expect the town to get overrun with spirited people dressed as leprechauns along with hundreds of 911 calls, reports CBS2’s Tara Jakeway.
This year the mayor is installing a “leprechauns on the low” approach toward Official Hoboken LepreCon Crawl, even though the event is not sanctioned by the city.
“We don’t see the advertising, we don’t see the banners out in front of the bars, we don’t see anything on social media, we’re not hearing any chatter,” said Lt. John Petrosino of the Hoboken police.
Petrosino is deploying 110 police officers Saturday, up from the standard 30 on a Saturday but not as many as years past.
“There’s not the tip-offs that we usually have saying this is going to be something big,” he said.
It’s a surefire sign Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bahlla’s strategy is working. This year he’s saying the best way to combat the crowds it to say nothing at all. He’s not even acknowledging the event and asking businesses to do the same saying the city,
LepreCon has had different names, but has happened every year for over a decade, much to the dismay of many residents.
“It’s an absolute drunken brawl in the streets, in the bars – really unsafe to go on the streets,” said Hoboken resident Maria Hodges,
Last year there were more than 400 calls to 911 calls and 11 arrests.
Bahlla is hoping keeping it hush-hush will lead to fewer unruly crowds. His office has posted dozens of no parking signs all over Hoboken and more streets will be closed than in previous years.
Others are less hopeful about that plan.
“Has he ever heard of social media? Really?” said resident Maria Hodges. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter whether there are signs on the street. Everyone’s going to know about it.”
LOOKING BACK: 2018 Annual LepreCon Bar Crawl Hits Streets Of Hoboken
“Even if they don’t publicize it, people are still going to come,” said Agron Dushaj of Benny Tudino’s pizza shop. “They’re going to enjoy it. They can do whatever they want, it’s still going to happen.”
For Dushaj, the annual event is good business.
“It’s by far the busiest day of the year,” he said. “On that day, from where you are, the line goes out the door, Sometimes we have to sell the pizzas out the back.”
Some owners have decided the boom in business isn’t worth it, like at Court Street Restaurant & Bar where they are abiding by the mayor’s policy denying entry to anyone participating.
Instead of scaling back, some bars like The Madd Hatter are opening up two hours earlier than normal for kegs and eggs. They’re even giving out green gloves to participants.