New Mayor Ravi Bhalla has pledged to clamp down on holiday bar crawls in the mile-square city because of past rowdiness, particularly in December at the “SantaCon” bar crawl.
The crawls usually occur on the first Saturday of March, a day when the city used to hold the St. Patrick's Day Parade each year. The parade was canceled in 2012 because of accompanying rowdiness in bars and at private house parties. Mayor Dawn Zimmer wanted to move the parade to a weekday, but the St. Patrick's Parade Committee refused. In the parade’s absence, bar owners participated in privately run bar crawls each year.
Last year there were 220 officers on patrol and roughly 20,000 people who participated. Hoboken Chief of Police Ken Ferrante estimated at the time the maximum cost to taxpayers to keep the revelry under control at $98,000 in overtime for Hoboken officers and $26,000 for outside law enforcement.
According to the city, five local bars will be closed next Saturday, March 3.
However, supporters of the bars on Twitter on Friday were unhappy with the news. Some bars have said in past Reporter stories that the revenue they make around these St. Patrick’s Day-related celebrations helps keep them in business, particularly as summer months are slower.
One of the bars is under a 30-day suspension, another under a 20-day suspension, and a third under a 24-day suspension. A bar on First Street is under a two-day suspension from March 3 to March 4.
A Washington Street bar will be closed on March 3 and was ordered closed again on May 21 for a 30-day suspension. After the 30-day suspension, it will permanently close pending the transfer or sale of the license to new ownership.
The police reports on the issues at the bars detail various menaces. One says that an altercation at a bar allegedly put the customer in the hospital and ended up in a coma.
According to the city, six other establishments agreed to settlements as well, but received lesser penalties.
“This represents a major accomplishment in fulfilling my commitment on Inauguration Day to address this public safety nuisance,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla in a press release from the city. “The vast majority of bar owners are responsible license holders, but a very small number of establishments have failed to adequately control their patrons and the activities within their premises, leading to severe public safety issues. The discipline agreed to by the owners is appropriate and I hope will lead to an understanding that public safety is a top priority and that the ABC board will not hesitate to enforce the liquor license regulations.”
Additionally, the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Alcohol Beverage Control has agreed to send 12 to 14 state ABC detectives to Hoboken on March 3.
Along with Hoboken Police ABC detectives, they will be monitoring establishments to ensure compliance with all ABC regulations, including not admitting underage guests, not overserving patrons, not exceeding capacity, and other health and security regulations.
“I am extremely thankful to New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and its ABC Division Director David P. Rible for his partnership in protecting the public safety and quality of life of our community,” added Bhalla.
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