St. Patrick’s Day Parade returns to South Boston

Parade crowds marching up Broadway Street before the start of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, after two years of cancellations due to COVID-19. Matthew J Lee/Globe Staff

“The South Boston Super Bowl” – 4:10 p.m.

Some spectators watched the parade from the comfort of their homes, such as Robin Conn, 40, who lives in a converted Catholic church condominium located directly on the parade route on West Broadway Street. Conn said she invited her friends to watch the parade with her from the church steps.

“We have the best seats in the house for the first part of the parade,” Conn said. “Having the front porch of the church to ourselves is almost like having the stadium seats for the Super Bowl in South Boston. It was awesome.”

Standing in an upstairs residence before the start of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, after two years of cancellations due to COVID-19.
Matthew J Lee/Globe Staff

Conn also brought his 2-year-old rescue dog, Sadie, who watched the crowd while wearing a green bandana around her neck.

“Sadie also had a blast, she loved the attention and getting all the pets from passers-by,” she said.

Conn’s friend Jeremy Pound, 42, drove out of Boca Raton, Fla., to attend the parade in South Boston for the first time.

“It was amazing to see it all and the spirit was crazy. The first bagpipe that came out, I loved it and was there for it. The drums and bagpipes certainly didn’t disappoint,” said Pound.

The cleanup begins as the party continues for some — 3:35 p.m.

City workers wasted no time cleaning the streets after the parade ended shortly after 2:30 p.m. Street cleaners scoured the parade route as spectators began to walk home – or for some, to the nearest Irish pub.

Bars and liquor stores on West Broadway Street, including Al’s Bottled Liquor and Shea’s Tavern, had lines of customers spilling onto the sidewalks. Outside the Burger King at 280 West Broadway St., the parking lot looked more like a tailgate, with dozens of young people drinking and posing for photos.

Walter Crayton, 43, from Quincy, wasn’t quite ready to give up on the celebrations once the parade was over, as he leaned over the metal barricades waving an Irish flag.

“It’s the unofficial start of spring, we haven’t had a big party since Covid started, so it’s a great opportunity for people to relax and have fun,” said Crayton, who attended the South Boston Parade for the past 10 years. “I got a lot of compliments on my flags, which is great! »

Crayton said he was disappointed the parade route was cut short this year, but it didn’t overwhelm his excitement to see the Irish festivities.

“I’m a little disappointed, but we’re here to have a good time after covid. I try to have a positive attitude,” he said. “It was a very diverse parade, everyone was represented equally. And I still love bagpipes!

“It’s so good to be back” — 2:50 p.m.

Empty beer bottles and cans of hard seltzer decorated the sidewalks of West Broadway, but the energetic crowds didn’t seem to care. The Iron Workers Local 7 union drove by on a float and threw gum into the crowd waiting outside 275 West Broadway St., and kids rushed to pocket the candy.

Many spectators wore green face paint and shamrock stickers, but far fewer wore face masks, which were rare on the densely packed sidewalks. Boston no longer requires people to wear masks indoors or at large-scale events like the parade.

Confetti flies over the Boston Fire Department Honor Guard at the start of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston. Matthew J Lee/Globe Staff

Thomas and Julie Starkey, both from West Roxbury, said they were delighted to see people returning to the parade after two years of cancellations due to COVID-19.

“Glad to be back and all the covid stuff is over, and people are out enjoying the weather, the way things should be,” said Thomas Starkey, 29, who brought his 7-year-old golden retriever named Buddy.

The two also brought their five-week-old daughter, Evelyn, to see her first St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“It has been brutal without a parade for two years, just like everything that has been closed for the last two years. It’s so good to be back,” said Julie Starkey, 28, who has attended the South Boston parade “since [she] was a little girl.

Sidewalks full of spectators along the shortened course — 2:15 p.m.

The sidewalks lining both sides of West Broadway Street were so packed with spectators at 2 p.m. that it became difficult to navigate the crowds. Kim Mulligan, 50, who has attended the parade in South Boston for more than 20 years, said the crowds were an expected part of the occasion.

“There would be fewer people if the parade route descended down through the [Dorchester] Heights. It sucks they shortened the course,” said Mulligan, who wore the Irish flag on his shirt. “They did it for the wealthy because projects are down on the low end. Southie is changing.

Julie Mejia Boston City Councilman, At-Large working on her selfie game during the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade route, after two years of cancellations due to COVID-19. Matthew J Lee/Globe Staff

Mulligan said she used to live in South Boston, but recently had to move to Charlestown because her apartment building was demolished to build condominiums in its place.

‘No one can afford to live in Southie anymore,’ she said.

An hour into the parade, the excitement continued to grow among the spectators. The sea of ​​people dressed in green erupted in shouts and cheers, others waving cloverleaf clappers as floats wrapped in bright green tinsel moved down the street.

“The world feels alive again” — 1:50 p.m.

For Brookline’s Beth and Chris Hall, Sunday was their first appearance in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston. They said they were very excited for their son, Crosby, 6, who hasn’t seen such large crowds since before the pandemic.

“It was like the first public event we thought we could attend since the pandemic. The world feels alive again so we wanted to get out there,” said 34-year-old Chris Hall.

Crosby smiled at the stream of cars and parade participants passing on the street, as he sat contentedly on his father’s shoulders.

“He doesn’t really know how to react, he’s like, ‘What the hell is this?'” Beth Hall, 34, said. again the city is fun.

For Francisco Boyle, 49, of Rosario, Argentina, Southie’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were the perfect excuse to visit Boston for the first time.

“I wanted to see with my own eyes what it would be like to be here for the holidays. I knew there was a lot of Irish feeling here in the city, but I couldn’t imagine so many people,” said Boyle, who travels across the United States on vacation.

Boyle laughed, adding “I thought I’d find more people drunk, but maybe it’s too soon!”

Colleen Couture, a 21-year-old college student from Fitchburg State, said taking the red line for the parade was harder than she thought with the large crowd.

“We got to the red line and we were crammed onto the train like sardines,” said Couture, who was with his three friends from Fitchburg State. “It was wild, we had to go through everyone, but we’re still having a lot of fun.”

Departure of the parade — 1:15 p.m.

The parade began with a stream of fire engines, as the crowd cheered and applauded the firefighters, who honked their horns in response. Children squealed with delight as cars tossed streams of white, orange and green confetti into the air.

Several groups followed, passing under a large American flag hanging over West Broadway. They were led by that year’s Grand Marshal, Susan McDonough, a South Boston native and veteran of the United States Army and Massachusetts National Guard.

After the emergency vehicles passed, music filled the air and was greeted by the thousands of spectators who filled the street as the Boston Police Pipes and Drums Band marched. Not far behind them, a group of little girls from the Woods School of Irish Dance paused for a moment to show off their moves.

A Mass Maritime Academy marching band came next and played an audience favorite, “Sweet Caroline.”

Crowds fill MBTA Red Line trains trying to reach the parade – 12:45 p.m.

Shortly after noon, the MBTA Red Line was filled with commuters decked out in festive green colors.

Trains arriving at Downtown Crossing station were so full that there was simply no room for most of the dozens of passengers waiting to board the train. MBTA Transit Police rounded up rowdy celebrants to advance further down the track, but struggled to disperse the rapidly growing masses.

Crowds grew at Downtown Crossing as passengers waited for the next train to Ashmont, but subsequent trains were just as full. Those brave enough to board were packed like sardines into the carriage, holding each other side by side until arriving at Broadway station, where commuters thronged the gates to find denser crowds waiting to get out of the station.

All escalators inside Broadway station were closed by police before the parade began, forcing commuters to use the stairs to exit or enter the station. Crowds attempting to leave the station grew into the hundreds, and entering the station from the outside became nearly impossible due to the large number of people exiting the station.


Nick Stoico can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.

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