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HOBOKEN--It's 9:30 a.m., and a growing crowd outside Teak on the Hudson is ready to start drinking.
The bar is the first to open for the St. Patrick's Day Bar Crawl, an annual event in Hoboken now in its fourth year that is unofficially known as "Lepre-Con." More than 5300 people have purchased passes to the event, which includes 25 bars in the Mile Square City, said Eddie Miller, chief executive officer of Wesell.com, the parent company of the event's organizer, HobokenStPatricksDay.com. He said the bar crawl is expected to draw at least 800 people outside of the metro area. A majority of the bars will open their doors at 11 a.m.
Lepre-Con launched in 2012 in response to the cancellation of the St. Patrick's Day parade, an event that became well known for its rowdiness. Event organizers say they shed the "Lepre-Con" monicker a few years ago, due to the negative connotation of the name.
Hoboken police Chief Kenneth Ferrante told NJ Advance Media that the bar crawl has proven increasingly less troublesome in recent years but that the day is still one of the department's busiest. All 141 police officers will be working on Saturday for a seven hour stretch and will be joined by the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office's Rapid Deployment Force, as well as police from NJ Transit, Port Authority, Stevens Institute of Technology and Westfield, he said.
The department will have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to public urination and unruly house parties, he said. Several festively green porta-potties are at the ready outside several participating bars.
When asked about the police response to the bar crawl, Miller said that his company has worked with the police department to ensure that Saturday's event is a safe one. He acknowledged that some misbehavior could probably be expected, but said that the city has done a good job addressing it.
"Of course there is going to be some debauchery. It's St. Patrick's Day," Miller said. "Every year the event is held, less and less citations are issued."