In the front of Willie McBride's on Saturday morning, a large group of greenly dressed 20-somethings was chanting, drinking and doing shots—a scene many people consider typical for St. Patrick's Day in Hoboken.
But behind the doors in the back of the bar, a very different—but much more Irish—St. Patrick's Day was taking place. The parade's honorees received their plaques for their commitment to the community and celebrated real Irish heritage during a traditional Irish breakfast.
"This is what the parade is about," said co-chair of the committee Bill Noonan.
Among the breakfast's attendees were Mayor Dawn Zimmer, County Freeholder Anthony Romano, former State Senator Bernard Kenny, multiple council members and, of course, the honorees of this year's parade.
"Wear your uniform in pride and have a great day," Zimmer said.
For Irishwoman of the Year Carol Wilson the honor brings her closer to her Irish heritage. She said her family arrived in America in the early 19th century.
"It's been over 150 years," Wilson said. "But all of a sudden you feel linked. You know your heritage is always there."
Different members of the St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee went up on stage to thank the mayor as well as Police Chief Anthony Falco for the increased security during the day.
Although tax payers have said otherwise in the past few weeks, the Irish community of Hoboken wants to keep the tradition of the parade alive.
"I am concerned that moving forward there's nothing we can do to save the parade," said parade founder Helen Cunning in a phone interview Friday.
Zimmer admitted that it has been hard to find the balance to keep the parade alive, while not letting the party outside get out of hand.
"Let's keep the parade in town and celebrate our Irish brothers and sisters," said Assemblyman Ruben Ramos Jr.
After everybody sufficiently filled their stomachs with eggs, bacon and sausage, the crowd got ready to assemble on 14th and Washington Streets to start the actual parade. Zimmer—for whom this was the first St. Patrick's Day as mayor—walked in front with U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, Congressman Albio Sires, closely followed by Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise and multiple Hoboken officials.
Being honored by the committee, means that you get to walk in the parade every year, something Irishman of the Year John Crowe said he was very happy about.
"It's really an honor," he said. "I won't miss one."