You and I both know that St. Patrick's Day is a week from Wednesday, but if you live in Hoboken you are well aware that in this town the event was celebrated yesterday. Why, if you don't live in Hoboken you may well ask. I think the answer is at least twofold: The parade must be on a Saturday, and it must be as early as possible to avoid conflicts with neighboring communities which might want the same marchers, bands, and celebrants.
We get them first, or at least among the first. Bars open at 9 A.M. and potential drunks line up outside them to get an early start on the revelry.
I watched the parade the first year I was in Hoboken. It was crisp and grey, and one by one I saw the participating high school musicians, marching police and firemen, politicians and local luminaries in convertibles and on foot. Not like the Mardi Gras of my hometowns Mobile and Fairhope, this parade, without expensive floats and revelers aboard them tossing candy, beads and Moon Pies to the screaming crowds, still attracted the kind of brain shift that seems to accompany anybody watching a parade. (Nobody asks, "Are we having fun yet?" but everybody wants to force a little joy from somewhere and vocalize it.)
Having seen it once I learned that most citizens of Hoboken vacate the area and leave the town to the invading hoard of college kids who sport green tee-shirts and funny hats. Last year I just stayed home, but I could hear parties in nearby apartments and backyards, on into the night. This year I live on the ground floor, in a condo with its bedroom on the street side, so I had an idea there would be noise all day and all night.
When I arrived on March 1 from a month in the South, I had no idea St. Patrick's Day would be Saturday. I booked a seat at a matinee of A Behanding in Spokane, the surreal comedy with Christopher Walken which is in previews on Broadway. This gave me the perfect escape from the Hoboken chaos of the day. When I left for the PATH train at 10:30 A.M., the streets were already crowded with young people and cops and everybody looking forward to a big day.
Getting into the subway was the hardest part of my day, as so many were coming out that it was difficult blazing a path through their determined young bodies. On the platform I said to the young man awaiting a train, "Well, it's good we made it this far," or something like that. We struck up a conversation which lasted the whole train ride and ended with exchanging business cards and me telling him about this blog.
I had an hour or two to kill in New York--a lovely dilemma--and spent it window shopping in Macy's and eating a light Mediterranean repast at my favorite pre-theatre Italian restaurant. I was warm and cozy when I got to the play, which delivered its promise of strangeness, profanity and offbeat hilarious comedy.
I decided to take the bus home, and, wonder of wonders, the bus had been diverted to the Willow Avenue route, presumably because of the Washington Street crowds. This is more convenient for me, and I've never been able to find a Willow St. bus in my two+ years in Hoboken. I still had a few blocks to walk, and it was only 4 P.M., so I had to weave my way through the noisy inebriants, but soon was home in my little condo and happy to be there. Yes, there was a little noise in the night, but I slept well and woke to find that St. Patrick's Day in Hoboken has come and gone until next year.