New Irish Festival Kicks Off in Hoboken

Hundreds showed up on Wednesday between 4 and 10 p.m. at Frank Sinatra Park.

While it lacked the pomp and ceremony of the usual or the intoxicated frolic of the new , the city of Hoboken's first ever entertained hundreds of people, including many young children, at Sinatra Park on  Wednesday night.

Chris Halleron, a longtime Hoboken resident and an Irish American, . Halleron said he hoped the festival will become a companion to the city's annual St. Patrick's parade, which this year was after the committee that has organized it opposed Mayor Dawn Zimmer's proposal to .

Zimmer said that a rise in in recent years on parade day has come to endanger public safety. The committee countered that moving the parade away from its traditional falling on the first Saturday in March would be logistically impossible and marginalize the celebration of their heritage.

With the two sides unable to reach a compromise, Halleron and other residents volunteered to organize a new event to recognize Hoboken's Irish heritage.

“We want to show a responsible Irish American celebration,” Halleron said. “But ideally next year we'll have the parade back in addition to the festival.”

The Hoboken Guards hurling club kicked off the festival, holding an exhibition of the sport that is considered to be the Irish national pastime. Hurling is similar to lacrosse in that the players hit a tennis-sized ball with wooden paddles across a grass field towards netted soccer-sized goals. Hurlers have to run continually while having the skill to hit the ball accurately during fast moving and sometimes physical play.

The club, which is sponsored by bar, was founded about year ago and counts 40 members from Hoboken as well as Princeton, Long Island and Connecticut. Many were also born overseas. One of the Guards, Fintan Meehan, learned hurling while growing up in County Clare, Ireland.

“You really have to pick it up at a young age,” Meehan said. “Even at age seven I was a late starter.”

As the night fell, the festival continued at nearby Sinatra Park with several musical performances, including traditional Irish step dancing by the Garden Street School of the Performing Arts and Irish songs performed by musicians Will O'Connor and his accompanying band, New Jersey based Paddy and the Pale Boys, and Dublin act George Murphy and the Black Donnellys.

The Hobokenites who attended ate fried breaded fish and chips served by Kearny based restaurant, the Argyle.

The family that owns the Argyle also brought and sold Irish themed merchandise from its Pipers Cove import gift shop.

Colin Nisbit, a Hoboken resident, manned the merchandise booth with the rest of his family. His mother is Irish while his father is Scottish.

Nisbit said he was at first skeptical that the city had had enough time to organize the festival, but believed that the springlike weather on Wednesday helped attract more people.

"I'm happy with the way this turned out," Nisbit said. Later during the festival Nisbit, dressed in a kilt, performed with bagpipes. A bagpiper player since the age of six, Nisbit also played the instrument during the earlier in the afternoon.

The festival featured a cordoned beer garden, where attendees drank Guinness and other Irish beers donated by Peerless Beverage. All proceeds from the concession sales will be donated to the and to the American Legion Post 107.

hobokenhorse.com March 15, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Nice story Mr. Skontra. You have now officially crossed into the Hoboken abyss. More on yesterday's terrific event: http://hobokenhorse.com
HobokenDad March 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM
A very nice time. A thank you to all those who made it happen.
Gardiner4Freeholder March 15, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Good write up Alan. I enjoyed the event and while I wasn't sure what turnout this event would generate, I was presently surprised at the number of people who showed up.
CuriousGal March 15, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Hey look, another self promoting blogger posting a link to his blog. That's great horsey--- taking lessons from nancy?
Hoboken1653 March 15, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Traditions change. Cities change. The Hoboken from 20 years ago and 10 years ago is gone. Today's Hoboken will look very different in 10 years and 20 years. "Progress", whether you like it or not, is inevitable. I hope the people who inevitably come to dump on this event because they wish it was 1981 think about that for a second. Somehow I doubt they will
Art Vanderlay March 15, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Nicely written Alan. The good weather was huge bonus, but I was also pleasantly suprised with the turnout given the lack of time the organizers had to set this up. Congratulations to Chris Halleron & the team that put the festival together. Hopefully, last nights strong showing has generated enough local interest so that its success can be built upon next year.
PeoplePlease March 15, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Then its back to the parade in 2014!!!
Bokenlvr March 16, 2012 at 05:52 AM
What does the parade committee say about the parade next year?
Grafix Avenger March 16, 2012 at 12:02 PM
My goodness, what happened last night with all the deleting? The SIX DAY story has hit quite a nerve... did EVERYONE colluding with Cammarano to give away zoning favors get caught, or did one GET AWAY? From this deleting behavior, it looks like one DID get away. Innocent men don't hide. Its funny that I never would have bothered looking into this, but not for he and his idiot wife calling me "Zimmer-appointed" ad- nauseum. They did it again yesterday, then I recalled that Bajardi had begged the City Council to let Cammy have zoning board control so... decided to cross check the timelines... KA-BOOM. IMO prosbus-Bajardi was deeply involved in the Cammarano - Dwek scandal- either at the request of the corrupt, powerful politician as a suck-up or for some kind of compensation. I would be curious to know if the Melanoma bank account had any large cash deposits made in mid-July of 2009. Those 2 idiots never know when to quit, think they're smarter than everyone else and underestimate others. Well, it looks like we'll get the last laugh- again. But I think this one is rather serious. http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2012/03/six-days-from-cammarano.html
ThisMeansWar March 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Looks like a lot of little kids having a blast. http://hoboken.patch.com/articles/hoboken-holds-first-ever-irish-cultural-festival#photo-9335868 Wonder if the little Bajardi child was there. Probably not. They have to treat events that might reflect positively on the mayor as Hitler Youth Rallies and shun them. First rate parenting there, Lane & Kim. Remember: politics are ALWAYS more important than your own child.


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