Open Letter to Hoboken: 4th of July

Hey, Hoboken! Please — I beg you — do not post a giant, glaring sign telling people to stay away this July 4th!

As a small business owner — as odd as this may sound — I rely on people actually coming to Hoboken in order to make a living. In the past year or so, it seems as though the city has been trying desperately to scare visitors away. For example; The recent parking debacle — eliminating free parking zones and nearly quadrupling the cost to park on the street — and discouraging people from coming to town during what are traditionally high-traffic holidays. While they’ve made strides to correct the parking situation by lowering the price (although still no more free zones), this issue of publicly asking tourists to stay away remains.

I’ve already stated in a previous post the issues I have with scaring holiday drinkers away. Go read that for more details. I will reiterate however that Hoboken (like most cities) relies heavily on tourism, nightlife, hospitality and the arts to survive. These are what made Hoboken the haven all the newbies now love. To suddenly demonize those very things is a mistake and very dangerous.

But on to my specific complaint and concern this time around. The 4th of July. Unlike other cities nearby who welcomed visitors with events and entertainment, last year Hoboken posted one of those huge traffic signs at the entrance of town essentially telling people to stay away. The sign read, “Fireworks Not Visible On The Waterfront.”

Photo Courtesy of hMag

Well, first of all … yeah they are. Fireworks — when done correctly — tend to explode in the sky. That’s actually the whole point. So even if their origin is on the East River, they can still be seen on this side of the Hudson River (and there are plenty of photos online to prove that).

Second; The only thing this kind of display does is make it clear to potential visitors that they are not welcome. And the more you send that message, the more they will listen. We’ve already seen the amount of folks visiting town or just passing thru decline in the past year. Especially on the weekends.

As much as we would love to run our business solely relying on the residents of Hoboken, it is just not feasible. This is a small town with residents who can be set in their ways. They get into a work/life routine that doesn’t vary all that often. This is fine, but it is also why we rely on out-of-towners. Therefore a steady flow of folks simply looking to do or eat or drink or see something new is essential to the success of any business in any city.

So again I beg the powers that be in the City of Hoboken; Please stop creating policies that foster an unwelcoming environment. Instead, create events that invite visitors from all over to come and enjoy what we have to offer. And there is a lot.

Specifically for July 4th, the city can stage something called the Hoboken Summer Cook-Out. Host it down on Pier A. Invite local businesses to sell food and whatnot. Have bands on a stage playing music. Have rides and bouncy castles for the kids. And cap it off with the fireworks exploding over the magnificent NYC skyline (yeah, yeah I know … East River blah, blah, blah). We have the room and the facilities to do it, as we have done in the past on much, much larger scales.

Instead of bragging about Hoboken’s hospitality and tourism, actually do something to prove it. Don’t fear it. Don’t cower away from success. Because the more people that visit, the less businesses will be shutting down.

Do it for us.

Do it for Hoboken.

Thank you.

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