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Hoboken Aims To Make SantaCon, LepreCon Pub Crawl Organizers Pay For 'Drunken Revelers' Aftermath

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - Big events such as pub crawls in one New Jersey city have cost tens of thousands of dollars, but a new proposal calls for bars to start picking up the tab.

A sea of green revelers traditionally storm the streets celebrating St. Patrick's Day during LepreCon, the same way hundreds dress as Santas each year for the bar-sponsored SantaCon pub crawl.

While some in Hoboken call it fun, others call it mayhem, reports CBS'2 Meg Baker.

"It's a good time, and I don't think it's that awful of a thing considering it's just one day a year," said resident Melissa Maruri.

On the other hand...

"Most of us leave town. There's a lot of urination, dedication in streets, there's violence - it's a mess," said resident Paul Somerville. "A few people make some money."

Councilman Mike DeFusco wants pub crawl organizers to help pay for the clean-up and extra resources. He estimates it costs the city $100,000 per event.

"It's long-overdue that Hoboken recoups the cost we put forth to patroling the safety of residents and visitors, as well as environmental service clean-up," he said.

DeFusco proposes that any bar crawl of two or more bars and more than 700 participants need to apply for bar crawl permit, costing a $4,000 fee.

Some bar owners say the special events bring in big money, which keeps them in business year-round. Many patrons leave this area during the summer months.

Hoboken Santacon
Santa's gather for the annual Ho-Ho-Hoboken SantaCon. (credit: CBS2)

"Obviously the holidays are a great source of revenue, so I don't think I should have to chip in this," said bar employee Jack Berquist. "This is their property."

Sources say opponents are reluctant to pass this proposal because, by permitting the event, the city would essentially be organizing it and therefore could be liable for anything that goes wrong.

"It legitimizes an event that shouldn't be happening in the first place," said resident Paul Somerville. "I don't care about the money, just stop it."

Others think it's a fair plan.

"I think that's a great idea," said resident Soraya Nino. "The more help we give city - keep it clean, inviting for tourists, attract others to our neighborhood."

Hoboken's Mayor Ravi Bhalla points out that the events have decreased in size, from 20 bars participating in LepreCon in 2017 to eight bars in 2019. A total of 555 summonses were issued by law enforcement in 2010, but only 12 last year.

The city worked with Hoboken police to reduce the impact of bar crawl events.

On Wednesday night, Councilman Mike DeFusco said City Council gave his plan initial approval with a 5-4 vote.

It will come up again for a final vote at a later date.

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