Leper-con Needed a Permit

Cops wrestling with a pickled Leper.  (Credit: Claire Moses)
 Reader Oracle made this excellent point today:
Leper-Con, its organizers and the bars who actively promoted it - should it ever happen again - must be required - as any large event would - to obtain the city's permission in the form of the permitting process, providing proof of insurances and posting an enormous sum in the city's escrow account to cover the anticipated costs of policing, cleanup and porta-johns.

When the circus comes to town, they need a permit.

When film production crews bring trailers, vehicles and crowds to town, they need a permit.

When the St. Patrick's Day parade organizers marched in the past in town, they needed a permit.
He's absolutely right.

While the organizers and promoters drew their inspiration- and name- from the yearly, worldwide Santacon event that's where the similarity stops.

Satancon promotes itself as a "non-denominational, non-commercial, non-political and non-sensical Santa Claus convention that occurs once a year for absolutely no reason."

Leper-con was nothing of the sort.

It was a joint private-business venture for the  purpose of consuming alcohol at bars (commercial) and house parties (private). The organizer, Jamie Darrah, sold merchandise (t-shirts with 'official' logo)- a for-profit venture.

Here's what Ms. Darrah told CBS Newsradio:
We want everyone to come up and come out and dress up and enjoy the festivities,” said co-organizer Jamie Darrah, who is hoping for a crowd of green-bearded leprechauns. “Hopefully we’ll have a set bar crawl listed on our website.”

They hope to have several bars and businesses participating.

She sees the event as being similar to SantaCon held across the river in New York City
There you go.  From the organizer's own mouth.

It's not a non-commercial dress-up.   Leper-con is a massive bar-crawl event impacting all City services: police, sanitation, fire department.   The City has to pick up the tab for Jamie's party.  And the bar-business' payday.


The consumption of alcohol makes the party spilling out onto the streets downright obnoxious for residents who encounter these drunks in the streets (blocking traffic) or on the sidewalk.

GA checked with a local event planner called Event Permits Hoboken about whether Leper-con would have required a permit from the City.  From their site:

Will I need a Permit?
If you are in doubt about whether or not your proposed activity is an Outdoor Special Event, and are unsure of what is required, ask yourself the following questions:
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you will need an event permit in the City of Hoboken.
Leper-con- like the Saint Patty's Day Parade- required a permit.  The organizers didn't apply for one.

Instead they held a massive 'party' for which a handful of businesses profited, that cost taxpayers a small fortune.  

So now it's time to add up the bill: police and sanitation.

Can the City do anything to recoup the cost?

Even some of it?


  1. GA- FYI, Santa Con goes to bars too. And the bars provide specials for the Santas.

    I do not understand the absolute hatred some of you have for this day. I mean, some people spent the entire day posting on this site and a few others about how awful Lepre-Con was. If life is so bad that the only outlet a person can find is to continue to post online all day on a Saturday while something is happening, it might be time to get a subscription for prozac or consider not living in any city atmosphere.

    1. Mel, I know you to be a nice gal and am sure you, your friends, your party, caused none of the trouble that Hoboken's seen from this annual bacchanalia. Further, you're a resident and a taxpayer.

      It's the influx of thousands who don't live here, some- not all, who take advantage of their host City and are at a minimum obnoxious, at their worst criminal. I don't want to foot the tab for this.

      Sorry, you are one of the good ones. I thought of you today- I went to Mamoun's. Unfortunately, alone.

    2. When you pay property taxes, have children and care about the quality of life for ALL the citizens in the place you call home, you may see this event for what it was.

      Some of us have put up with this paradise for budding alcoholics for years, so you can understand the anger.

      Cities that have been popular spring break destinations put a stop to hosting the bad behavior of those who won't grow up and Hoboken must do the same.

    3. One of these days we'll go to Mamouns together. :)

      And you're right, my friends & I don't cause problems (and most are homeowners who pay taxes). :)

    4. Just a gentle reminder....whether property owner or renter, all Hoboken residents pay taxes.

      Please don't consider tax-paying as an us:them issue. Everyone is in it together.

      Everyone is also in it together around achieving consensus on quality of life issues.

    5. Agreed, MBB, but not true in the same proportions for folks in rent-stabilized or PILOTed buildings such as Church Towers and Applied.

      When one is writing the full-freight property tax check either directly to the city or in the form of escrow payments to a mortgage holder, the lift is that much heavier when one considers that there are those drunkards who: A) Don't respect property - public or private and: B) Cause a significant amount of public resources and dollars to be spent on controlling their bad behavior.

  2. Not sure why hatred should play into any discussion. This article talks about the cost for the City to act as a host to an event that falls within the parameters of requiring a permit.

    Two years ago, the City of Hoboken tried to get the bars to contribute to a aid in the massive overhead. There's a certain bar owner of the Elysian Cafe who I've been told not only did not contribute but made it his business to tell other bar owners not to contribute.

    Now Eugene Flinn benefits from that day every year in Hoboken. He doesn't want to contribute. Fine, that's his right. But it's also the City's right and the taxpayers to see what the cost is and say, how does this fit into our cost structure and how can we make this work.

    Ft. Lauderdale used to see a quarter of a million visitors on Spring Break. The city did not like the results. They made the laws tougher and enforced them. Now they get about 10% of what they did but they are more comfortable with that result.

    Don't know the bill for the event but there will be a bill. Whatever that figure is, one has to ask about who is paying and who is profiting?

    That is dollars and sense and has absolutely nothing to do with hatred.

    1. And I will bet absolutely none of the laws Fort Lauderdale used had anything to do w/ requiring promoters of Fort Lauderdale or Spring Break needing to get a permit to send out emails or facebook invites. The passed things like noise ordinances & banned drinking on the beach.

  3. GA: a little over the top, maybe? Did the event planner get that permit info from the city? I'm presuming that is just their interpretation of what requires a permit because it seems waaaay to all-encompassing. Here's why:
    1) Every private party will "spill onto public space" when guests come and go, not counting the smokers that step outside onto the sidewalks
    2)There's always a "remote" chance that safety of residents (guests) will be affected. There's also a "remote" chance that there will be a major earthquake tomorrow
    3)Does the event require city services - i.e., trash pick-up...ah, living in town requires city services, i.e., trash pick up

    I'm no fan of the drunken onslaught (I won't be a fan of the Super Bowl onslaught either, should that happen and I thought the hope for the Super Bowl was to bring in LOTS of out-of-towners...some may even drink while in town) but, hey, the drink fest is just one day a year. I'm less a fan of the overwhelming police presence all over town that comes with the partying but again, it's just one day...I'll get over it. Lepre-con would never be something that I have interest in participating in, but I'm not the only one that lives here and, despite the hoards of out-of-towners that participate, many young folks that live in town seem to enjoy it. They are fellow residents, so let 'em. As to some businesses profiting - so what? Do we begrudge that? One of those businesses just donated it's space and 1-drink per person for a fundraiser a couple days ago, I hope he saw a nice profit yesterday. Sorry, I'm just a little taken aback.
    PS: Found my password ;-)

    1. Indie: "Did the event planner get that permit info from the city?"

      Since when is it the city's obligation to specifically inform people/entities who are about to break the law about the existence of said law?

      Indie: "Every private party will "spill onto public space" when guests come and go, not counting the smokers that step outside onto the sidewalks."

      There is a "small" difference between a few smokers stepping outside of an isolated private party to smoke and the hordes of tens of thousands of drunkards descending on this city requiring massive presence of safety personnel (including out-of-town help), is there not?

      Indie: "Does the event require city services - i.e., trash pick-up...ah, living in town requires city services, i.e., trash pick up."

      Sure, it's the city's duty to pick up trash that is left in bins/bags at the curb in the normal course of life, but it is an entirely different matter when an unlawful event such as this causes large portions of the city's roads and sidewalks to be totally littered with garbage of the drunk hordes, which requires city workers (presumably paid overtime) to clean up the mess on a Sunday.

      Indie: "I thought the hope for the Super Bowl was to bring in LOTS of out-of-towners."

      I bet you that the crowd that can afford to come here for the Superbowl will have outgrown their drinking/partying age.

    2. Good lord, so incredibly angry. Do you beat up on elderly woman in your spare time? I was just asking if that list came from the city or an event planner. In other words, is the vendor interpreting the law in layman's terms? As to the city informing people, um, there is this little thing called the municipal code that anyone can access if they want to know the law and yes, it's on the website to inform people how NOT to break the law. As to you rant about an unlawful event. Seriously, if there was ANYTHING unlawful about this event, we had plenty of police to start arresting people and the business owners that participated. Is that, seriously, where you're trying to go with this? I'd be surprised if the Mayor took the bait on that one. Lastly, as to your theory about the higher income levels of Super Bowl attendees, is there one scintilla of data or evidence somewhere about this that you can point to? Please post. Oh and PS: Some people never outgrow drinking/partying. My suggestion, relax, sit down and grab yourself a beer from the 'fridge.

    3. Indie, the examples you provided don't require the deployment of more than 100 police officers and the City's sanitation services, paid for on our dime.

      It's the scale of the event (thousands, not hundreds) and the combo with alcohol (it's a bar-crawl) that make it uniquely qualified, in my view, to get the City's approval via permit, on behalf of it's residents.

      No, don't think it's over-the-top. I don't see the permit requirement as punitive.

      But really, it's the City's call. If a resident gets hurt at a future one, you'd think they'd at least want to minimize their own liability. But, I'm traipsing into Not-Stempler territory. Where I don't belong!

  4. well Elysian Cafe renters should be loosing their 15 year Lease soon and given back to the original owners ....hopefully.

  5. I've had a lawyer look into the permit and recourse that us as taxpayers would have on the organizers of the event. The lawyer has been on top of this since the event was announced. Anybody with property damage certainly has a case against Jamie. As for the bill for safety, Porto-johns and clean up ONLY this city would be able to go after the organizers. I hope that people tell their City Council members that they want action against the organizers and not for the taxpayers to foot the bill for Jamie's party. I do not know of she profited and I'm not sure anybody who posts her know as a matter of fact.
    What is a fact is that the only way the taxpayers will not pick up the bill for Lepra-Con this year and in future years is in the hands of the City.
    I don't want more lawyers and lawsuits but I also don't feel I should pay for Jamie's party...

  6. No one has to call their council person, why not just get a group of people to go speak at the next city council meeting? Get a group of, at least 5 people (preferably 10,) have them sign the list to speak during public comment (you do have to use your real names) and demand that the city council and mayor track down Jamie and give her the bill for the porto-johns and clean-up overtime. Please lay it on thick.

  7. It's not just the size of the event that should require a permit. It's the complete unpredictability of the size of the event.

    Police are entitled, in my view, to take a rough headcount of people entering by car or Path Train on Lepre-con days, assume that every goddam person they see is going to get roaring drunk, and set a limit. Much they way they do with State Parks. Once that limit is reached, the next person is turned away.

    Hard to manage? Definitely. But what "tells" us whether we will have 5k, 10k, 15k or 20k roaring drunks? The one variable we can't control is how many LE people we have. That's fixed when the event starts. That number of LE people can only handle n drunks.

    This would entail calling it what it is. Nothing to do with the Irish, or the catholic church or anything except for getting faced in Hoboken, ie, doing things you can't do in Times Square on New Years Eve. So be it. Get a permit, set a number, and when that number is hit, close the doors to non-residents.

  8. A permit for sending out emails and facebook invites so people will all go to bars that already have a permit and go drink? Good luck with that.


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