Irish Amateur Hour(s)

Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day is easily the town’s social event of the year, but has it become too big for a small town? Realhoboken’s Joe Concha looks back on green day in the Mile Square, and wonders if the day has somehow become too popular to enjoy.

March 4, 2006

8:47 AM: The alarm goes off. Usually a time like this is sacrilege on a Saturday morning, but I was determined not to wait in line to get into a bar in 20-degree wind chills for two hours.

8:57 AM: Just because the alarm goes off, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to get out of bed.

9:07 AM: Get out of bed…mutter something to myself that drinking this early can’t be a good idea.

9:44 AM: Breakfast of champions is served: Frosted Flakes with banana, English Muffins, pancakes, and peanut butter (straight…no jelly or bread). The Shannon was our group’s destination of choice, so food during the day would not be an option since they don’t serve food. Coat that stomach with all-things starch-based.

9:54 AM: First of several “Where are you?” phone calls and text messages, one of which included a report that lines at Buskers, McSwiggans, Whiskey Bar, and the aforementioned Shannon are already huge.

9:54 AM: I mutter “fuck” at my phone screen. The plan is already falling apart, and I don’t even have my shoes on yet.

10:15 AM: Arrive at the Shannon. To my horror, I see only a sea of people resembling a check-in line at an airport the night before Thanksgiving…in Dublin. “How pathetic is this for these schmucks to be on line this early?” I say to no one in particular. Then again, I was part of the whole pathetic process, so who the hell am I?

10:20 AM: We’re 80 feet from the door.

10:45 AM: We’ve moved exactly three feet, putting us only 77-feet away.

11:00 AM: I cancel my Sunday brunch plans; because it is likely I will still be on line waiting to get into this damn bar.

11:15 AM: Make a run to Sparrow Liquors for some sidewalk sodas (a new term I conjured up on Saturday). Those Bud Light Blue bottles look cool…I’ll take 16.

11:35 AM: A young police officer comes by and instructs some people in front of us to get rid of their bottles. His tone is almost of shock and disbelief, as if it’s crack being consumed in public instead of Coors Light. An older officer behind his partner says to the group after the other officer storms off, “Sorry, I can’t choose my partner.” He gets it: it’s one of the coldest days of the year, people have been twisting in the wind for two hours, and a beer on line wasn’t hurting anyone.

12:00 PM: Three hours into the day, I’ve had one 16 oz. beer, or an average of 5 oz. per hour. I decide this pace will likely not get me back to that happy place.

12:15 PM: We’re now 60 feet from the door. Marie, the owner, comes out and is clearly stressed. According to her, the place is already at capacity yet is only half full. Evidently the town decided to set the New Shannon’s limit at 133, or less than half of its previous limit of 286. Considering the back auditorium alone could fit 200 people without it feeling too crowded, her argument is a sound one.

12:17 PM: It’s painfully clear we’re not getting into the Shannon before midnight, so Plan B is presented when one of our spies calls to say there is no line at Hennessey’s.

“Hennessey’s? I thought that place closed,” my friend Chris says.

“Yeah, didn’t it become…” my other friend Jessica says before Chris interrupts her.

“The Gayge?” Chris asks.

“I believe it’s the Cage,” I say. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Apparently the Cage owners recognize Hoboken St. Patty’s Day is an event that doesn’t take place on Brokeback Mountain, so for the day they take down the old signs to give the impression that the bar is simply Hennessey’s, cookie-cutter straight bar, once again.

Give the gay bar a makeover for a day for easy profits?


12:18 PM: After 60 seconds of debate, Plan B is scratched.

12:20 PM: Another call comes in; this one from some of our people who also claim to have found a bar without a line – which today feels like getting information from EF Hutton.

And when EF Hutton talks, people listen.

“This bar is a little small, but there’s no line!” yells Tracey above the noise.

“Is this place in New Jersey?” I ask, willing to settle for a run to Leggett’s in Manasquan at this point.

“It’s the (inaudible chatter)…Where are we? The Hilton? Oh! Joe- It’s the Wilton House.”

I shutter, and it isn’t from the 30 mile-per-hour gust that nearly blows my phone out of my hand.

12:21 PM: Plan C is out.

12:25 PM: We’re now 55 feet from the door. The line appears to be, um, stuck. However, nobody is moving strictly because of (a) a lack of options and (b) principal, like running a marathon and quitting at mile 18…you need to go all the way at that point even if it kills you. A large string of brown-bagged empty beer cans and bottles lines the wall all the way up to corner, proving that people do know how to be resourceful even if it is illegal.

12:30 PM: An executive decision is made to go back to our friend Mike’s apartment on Newark and Grand. Having been there before, there at least is the comfort of knowing his pad is bigger than most bars in Hoboken. A keg delivery is called in.

12:45 PM: Binge consumption finally commences in warm temperatures.

2:00 PM: A party of seven suddenly becomes 20 when a few large groups leave the bars/lines and realize that drinking for free and having access to a bathroom can be a good thing.

2:02 PM: Check my email on my blackberry. Evidently former Dipper’s bartender and member Chris Schiraldi is having a rip-roaring good time, but somehow finds the time to send the following email during the largest social event of the season. Is there an Internet Café in town serving alcohol that we didn’t know about? Or could Chris be sitting at home – looking for his next bartending job – and finally suffering a mental meltdown?

2:30 PM: Mike the host hooks his I-Pod up to his television. I didn’t know this could be done.

2:50 PM: The party grows from 20 to 40, but doesn’t begin to approach Jake Ryan/Sixteen Candles levels. It dawns on me that the day is no different from any other, except it’s almost as if we’re obligated as Hoboken residents to get overserved before 3:00 PM on the first Saturday in March every year.

2:59 PM: Somebody hands me a shot called Mexican Hepatitis. Somehow the shot goes down even worse than it sounds. I feel a hole burn through the peanut butter and pancake stomach coating.

3:00 PM: Pizza delivery called in for reinforcements.

3:01 PM: Another call comes in; somehow there are still long lines at The Shannon. We wonder if the same people we were with at 10:15 AM are still there, and if Sparrow Liquor has run out of sidewalk sodas.

6:00 PM: For some odd reason, the next three hours go by in what feels like three minutes – which tends to happen when reaching that happy place. Party has now grown to about 50. Keg is kicked, but ten 30-packs keep the festivities moving.

6:02 PM: A girl walks in with a T-shirt that says, “Pillow talk is extra” while sporting an Oklahoma City Hornets cap. I find this outfit genius. She truly is a girl who gets it.

6:29 PM: Another email from fun readers

From: ChppedLiver7 Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2006 6:29 PM To: Joe Concha Subject: St. Pat’s Day Articles

If you could see the devastation that alcohol abuse can cause, you wouldn’t be promoting this nonsense the way you are.

Yeah, if didn’t exist, tumbleweeds would be rolling down Washington Street on March 4 and the town would be as dry as a Jon Stewart joke.

Get help.

6:30 PM: A move to go to another party is announced. If it’s any other day, forty questions are usually asked as far as who is having the party, who we know that will be there, why we’re going at all, and how big the place is. But six hours of not-so-fine hops pacifies all trepidation, and off to the bash on 7th and Park we go.

6:45 PM: First PDA sighting of the day, which would have happened about six hours sooner if we stayed in the public domain. Who knew dry humping could be accomplished standing up?

6:48 PM: The host of the party is running down the street towards us while pushing a shopping cart full of Milwaukee’s Best. Somehow given the context of the day, this all seems normal.

6:50 PM: Arrive at the Park Ave. party, which was so big it even had its own website. I’m upset I didn’t think of this for my SundressFest.

6:55 PM: The girls decide the scene is a frat party on steroids. The apartment already looks like the morning after New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but at least it’s huge. Four floors? Is this Kanye’s place? I thought he lived in the Tea Building.

7:05 PM: The top two floors have a bouncer…a first for a Hoboken apartment party. No one gets access unless there on they are considered VIP. We don’t know what this means.

7:20 PM: Being non-VIP only makes for an average evening, and the curiosity of seeing the inebriated masses is too much to resist.

7:45 PM: First ticket witnessed for urinating in public at 6th and Bloomfield.

7:46 PM: First spotting of a “Kiss me I’m Irish” t-shirt, and a guy is wearing it. I can’t even think of a joke to put here there are so many to choose from.

8:00 PM: Go to Café Michelina for dinner. Place is packed, but thankfully with civilized people who didn’t partake in the festivities. BYOB is not a good thing, but the food never tastes better. Even so, a hangover begins to rear its ugly head while I’m still drinking. Is this possible?

9:24 PM: A writer texts me to say that an unconscious girl is carted out of Sullivan’s and into an ambulance. Given that intake time has reached 12+ hours, this is as surprising as a misunderstanding in a Three’s Company episode.

9:40 PM: Walking down Washington Street, the streets are predictably littered, but more so than in years past due to strong winds. Couples are clinging to each other as they walk, either for warmth or basic support. Home appears to be the only option, as fatigue and sleepiness from the wine with dinner finally having an irreversible effect.
10:00 PM: Turn on the TV and see that UNC has beaten Duke at Durham. It truly is a strange day.

10:15 PM: I decide to shut my eyes for a second before retuning calls missed throughout the day.

3:15 AM: “A second” becomes five hours.

3:16 AM: I vow not to drink anything but Peach Snapple, coffee and water for the rest of the month.

Another year, another Hoboken St. Patty’s Day in the books… Every year is a blast, and somehow each is always decidedly different from the year before. Despite the lines beginning seemingly at dawn and the amateur hour(s) HSPD has become, we have the luck of the Irish to live in this town because of days like this.