Pei-Sze Cheng reports.
Hoboken's St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place on a weekday next year in an effort to stem dangerous incidents related to heavy alcohol consumption by parade-goers, the mayor announced.
The policy change announced by Mayor Dawn Zimmer on Tuesday came after reports of two alleged sexual assaults the night before and the day of the parade last weekend.
The first alleged attack happened early Saturday morning. A woman told police she was at a house party and was assaulted there. The prosecutor's office said she declined to press criminal charges but had asked for a medical exam.
The second incident happened on Saturday. Prosecutors say a 23-year-old woman said she was brought to a residential building by a man she met at the parade and raped.
According to the prosecutor's office, alcohol played a factor in both incidents.
Zimmer added at a news conference Tuesday that firefighters had also been pelted with flower pots as they responded to a report of an apartment fire the day of the parade.
No one was injured but tickets were issued and the party was shut down.
The wild parties surrounding the parade are legendary.
To clean up the parade's image, the city had already instituted a zero tolerance policy and increased fines for public drinking and disorderly conduct.
Police say this is the first time in recent memory that officials have received reports of such serious crimes during the parade.
"I feel very safe in this town," said Andrea Baiori. "But on that specific day, walking around by myself is something I wouldn't do."
Zimmer emphasized the city's focus on safety, saying in a statement earlier, "Over the last two years, the city has worked to dramatically increase police presence in an effort to ensure the safety of residents and visitors."
At one point, the city considered canceling the parade because of the rowdy celebrations, but business owners rallied to keep it, especially because of the extra revenue it brings.