Walsh: St. Patrick parade route to stay shortened

Scene from the parade 2014. 	Chris Lovett photoScene from the parade 2014. Chris Lovett photo

The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sun., March 20, will be shortened for the second consecutive year, according to Mayor Martin Walsh’s office. It will keep to the abbreviated trek – about half the traditional route, centered on Broadway – that was set up after snow clogged the city last year. Parade organizers had hoped that the traditional parade route would be restored.

"After consulting with Commissioner Evans, I have decided that it is in the best interest of public safety, while balancing the historic tradition of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, to use the same route that we did last year for this year's parade," Walsh said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The day before, Tim Duross, the parade organizer for the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which coordinates the event, said the council was still waiting on city approval of the route in the hope that the traditional one would be restored.

“This year, you’ll have a nice day like we usually do,” he guessed. And with about 1.8 million people descending on the city for the third largest parade in the country, “you can’t squeeze that amount of people on one road,” Duross said.

Duross said the longer route – working east from West Broadway near Broadway Station deep into Southie, moving along East Broadway, turning south on P Street, reversing course, then heading past Thomas Park and down Dorchester Street to Andrew Station – would make it easier for participants and spectators to get to and from the parade via mass transit. It also would ensure that the procession will go past some significant Evacuation Day markers like Dorchester Heights.

It looks to be a record-sized parade, Duross said. The previous record for Boston parade units was 142, he said, but they anticipate about 150 to march this year. In the mix will be 32 marching bands, up from the 20 to 25 the parade usually features, he said.
Joining military and veterans groups from across the country for a second year will be Boston Pride and the LGBT veteran group OUTVETS. Elected officials who had previously boycotted over LGBT exclusion are expected to march again this year.

“We were thrilled with the positive response from parade-goers last year as Boston Pride marched through the streets of South Boston,” said Sylvain Bruni, president of Boston Pride, in a statement announcing their participation. “There are many members of Boston Pride who are veterans and of Irish descent and being able to march in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade for the second year is a great accomplishment for us all,” he said.

If all goes as anticipated, participants should line up along Dorchester Avenue by 11 a.m., with the parade set to kick off at 1 p.m.
Earlier that day, state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry will host the traditional St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The event, which doubles as a political roast and pre-parade celebration of Irish-American culture, will be televised live on New England Cable News beginning at 10 a.m.