As March 10–the day of the Morris County St. Patrick's Day Parade in Morristown–draws closer, the stars appear to be aligning for an event that, just two years ago, had a dark cloud (literally) hanging over it.
Where the weather turned so fierce in 2010 that the annual event was cancelled at the last minute (again, literally), warm weather and pleasant skies made for a relatively drama-free tribute to all things Irish in 2011.
Here in 2012, while temperatures are not expected to climb as high as they did last year, crisp blue in the sky is expected to complement the mass of green on the ground below.
"I hope it's a beautiful day," said Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty. "I wish all the people who come to our town to have a great time."
As anyone knows, however, the parade is never just about the parade. Recently, three bars requested–and received approval for–one-day extensions on their liquor licenses, to allow for them to erect outdoor tents on Parade Day.
The connection between the holiday and potential over-indulgence was brought further into the spotlight when Hoboken opted last year to cancel its own annual St. Patrick's Day event after many arrests, as well as accusations of sexual assault by two women. As an alternative, the city held what they called the "LepreCon," which didn't feature a parade, but did apparently include at least one man climbing a wall because he thought he was Spiderman.
It's a connection not lost on Morristown's mayor. "For those who like to attend our bars, we hope they respect and understand we want them to have a good time, but respect our community," Dougherty said.
"I understand it was the mayor and council's choice to cancel the parade [in Hoboken]. That's their choice," he said. "There may be a minor uptick of attendance to ours [because of the cancellation], but I don't think you'll see much. We have never had our parades on the same day."
If there was any concern for Parade Day, however, Dougherty said the town had it under control. "I don't think there's going to be a problem," he said. "I have full confidence in my police chief (Peter Demnitz) and how he operates."
William Quinn and John Butler, with the Morris County St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee, echoed the mayor's sentiment.
"We believe that the Morristown Police are well trained, prepared and able to handle the crowds on Parade Day," they said in a press release. "The Morris County Parade Committee support Morristown's Zero Tolerance policy as strongly as we enforce our own Zero Tolerance policy for conduct of participating groups in our Alcohol Free Parade."
Still, just because the parade itself is alcohol-free, doesn't mean Morristown will be a dry community on Saturday.
"It'll be crowded regardless," said David Gsell, co-owner of Sona Thirteen.
Gsell said he wasn't sure if what's happened in Hoboken would change anything in Morristown, but noted it didn't really matter. "The town always is very crowded," he said. "But, it's not just partiers. There's lots of families that also come out afterward. We expect it to be busy. We're as prepared as ever."
Jim Beers, owner of The Famished Frog, didn't expect much of any change because of Hoboken's cancelled parade. "I think it will be fun and business as usual for Parade Day," he said. "We do things a certain way and it works out for us."
Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman, whose First Ward encompasses the commercial district where many of Morristown's watering holes are located, said attendance will depend a lot of what Mother Nature has in store.
"It's definitely weather dependent, we've seen that at any outdoor event," she said. "Good weather will make it easier for everyone. It should be a great day."
"We welcome everyone to come here and have a great time," Dougherty said. "Don't drink and drive, and remember to respect everyone around you and the community you're coming to to celebrate St. Patrick's Day."