Like inebriated conquistadors, the twentysomething set that descends upon Hoboken every St. Patrick's Day came, they saw, they stumbled around.
While the threat of a $2,000 fine due to the police force's diligence to "zero tolerance," kept public urination and vomit to a minimum, most of Washington Street still looked like a scene from a zombie film – "Bring us to your BEER!"
Nicole Ambrasas, 22, was one of those on line to get into Mulligan's in the morning, along with friends Tara and Eric Baumgartner, 21 and 26, and she had already gotten her fill of the "insane" crowds on the PATH train. The trio planned to eschew house parties and stick to some traditional St. Paddy's barhopping.
Farther uptown, Jon Lee, 33, of Oklahoma, said he and his crew of friends had been "going strong drinking since 8:30."
Lee and his friend Brett Odum, 32, left their Midwest home for the weekend at the bequest of their pal, Danny, a Hobokenite who had spoken so highly of the Mile Square's debaucherous festivities that the duo had to fly out to see for themselves.
And Lee, who joked that his town in Oklahoma doesn't even have paved roads, was impressed with the citywide party–and it was only 11 a.m.
"We love this place, it's awesome," said Odum.
Outside the Madison Bar and Grill, Brandie Peters and Lauren Sawicki, both 24 and from Clinton, took a break from the thumping music and smell of Guinness beer to catch some fresh air.
"We got here at 10:30, went to a house party, but it was packed and you couldn't move, so we needed to get out," said Peters.
Peters said she hadn't seen anything, well, crazy so far, but shrugged–"Probably in like two hours it'll get insane. There were some people already at that party that could barely stand up."
Mind you, at this point, it was barely noon.
There's just something about St. Patrick's Day in Hoboken that makes one want to give in to the lure of less-than-intelligent choices. Maybe it's the green beer; maybe it's the jarring sound of bagpipes, or maybe the simple belief that no one will remember anything the next day.
Jaime Kenney, 24, of Millstone, said she was at a small party at a friend's apartment earlier in the morning and remembered some curious fashion and drink choices.
"There were guys wearing green overalls. Why would you do that? Also it was 11 a.m. and I was drinking Franzia boxed wine. That's about as trashy as you can get," Kenney laughed.
So by the time the parade started at 1 p.m., the younger crowd was generally soused up, though fairly well behaved. A young woman who shall remain anonymous–for her sake–was spotted shouting, "Yeah, gimme candy, woo!" at the fire trucks driving down the parade route.
They weren't giving out any candy.
At the end of the day, people began to stagger home to pass out, or if they were clinically insane, kept hopping from bar to bar. More than one young woman was spotted teary-eyed, with mascara running down her face, arguing with a boyfriend or being consoled by best friends. And lest we forget the brawls–at least three people were arrested for allegedly fighting.
Bill Ryan, 27, of Jersey City, probably summed it up best by that point, as people slumped to the train or in desperation hailed a cab: "I just want to go home and take a nap."