St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Still green but more inclusive

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Spurred on by the rowdy cheers of thousands gathered along sidewalks, marchers in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade wound their way through South Boston Sunday afternoon in an event that historically celebrates the city’s rich Irish roots and more recently salutes inclusivity.

And, yeah, turns a neighborhood into one big party.

Men in uniform chugged drinks during the St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston on Sunday afternoon.
NATHAN KLIMA FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
Men in uniform chugged drinks during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston on Sunday afternoon.

Kicked off with a fusillade of ceremonial musketfire from a group of Lexington Minutemen and a billowing cloud of green, orange, and white confetti, the parade was led by local political leaders as the procession marched under a large American flag held aloft by a pair of Boston Fire Department trucks at the corner of West Broadway and A Street.

Lexington Minutemen Revolutionary War re-enactors held their rifles as confetti falls at the start of the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.
STEVEN SENNE/AP
Lexington Minutemen Revolutionary War re-enactors held their rifles as confetti falls at the start of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
“I love the atmosphere, the noise,” said Joey Navarro, 19, of North Billerica, as he hoisted a large Irish flag over his shoulder. “No one is negative here; it’s just good vibes.”

 

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh shook hands with people in the crowd.
NATHAN KLIMA FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh shook hands with people in the crowd.
Marchers included many local leaders, including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Governor Charlie Baker, and US Representative Stephen Lynch, who had all attended the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast on the South Boston Waterfront.
Spectators wore green, of course, and some went further, wearing oversized leprechaun hats, necklaces festooned with shamrocks, and occasionally, orange beards.

People sat on stoops along Dorchester Street, some proudly waving flags with “Erin go Bragh” embroidered on them.

Boston police arrested three people for charges ranging from disorderly conduct to minor in possession of alcohol during Sunday’s parade, said Officer James Kenneally, a spokesman for the department, in a tweet. Kenneally said 88 citations were issued for public drinking.

Conor McGregor, the mixed martial artists star, traveled the parade route in an SUV, getting out of the vehicle a few times to greet fans on the sidewalk. He was in town after he ceremoniously dropped the first puck ahead of Saturday night’s Bruins game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden.

The colorful cast of marchers Sunday included people dressed as characters like Black Panther, Iron Man, and Elmo. About a dozen marchers wore “Ghostbusters” costumes.

Costumed superheroes wowed the crowd on Dorchester Street.
PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF
Costumed superheroes wowed the crowd on Dorchester Street.

Eddie MacKinnon, 57, his short hair dyed green, stood along the route cheering, with his 2-year-old grandson, Ricky, sitting on his shoulders.

This was Ricky’s first time at the parade, he said, and it looked like the boy was having a ball.

“He loves the yelling, the screaming — and seeing Spider-Man and Batman,” said MacKinnon, who lives in Boston.

Just before the parade began, Jim Grace, 75, of Mecosta, Mich., said he was there for the first time.

“I’ve liked all of the people; everyone is friendly,” Grace said. “It’s a caring town.”

A pipes and drum band marched in the parade.
NATHAN KLIMA FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
A pipes and drum band marched in the parade.

This year’s parade had an air of inclusivity not always seen in the past.

Years ago, the parade, led by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, was known for efforts by organizers to block LGBTQ veterans from marching in the parade.

LGBTQ veterans fought for years for the right to march in the parade, and in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that the parade was a privately organized event protected by the First Amendment. The court ruled at the time that organizers could exclude any group.

Organizers of this year’s parade hired Bryan Bishop, the founder of LGBTQ veterans OUTVETS, as their director of parade operations. Bishop opened Sunday’s festivities, welcoming a diverse crowd to the parade.

Caitlin O’Toole, who attended Sunday, praised the inclusion of LGBTQ veterans.

“If someone is invested in this parade, invested in the culture, and the city itself, why not include them?” she asked.

Los Angeles firefighter Kevin Williamson busted some moves to the beat of a passing dance group.
PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF
Los Angeles firefighter Kevin Williamson busted some moves to the beat of a passing dance group.

O’Toole’s mother, Judy, said the parade’s changes were “wonderful.”

“I think it’s nice that people have broadened their idea of who gets to be in the parade, who really is Bostonian,” Judy said.

Plus, it’s a party, too.

Matthew Halinski, 30, and his fiancée, Rachael Tortora, 28, drove up to Southie from Cape Cod Sunday.

“You come into Southie, and it’s where you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” Halinski said.

For the couple, the best parts of the day were watching the parade “and the Guinness that follows,” Halinski said.

Eddie Holmes, now lives in Leicester but when he was growing up in Somerville, he attended the parade.

Now he brings his two young daughters every year in hopes of passing on the tradition.

“I remember it as a kid just being a great experience,” Holmes said, “and it’s cool sharing that with my kids.”

Sisters Lejla, 3, and Sara Miletovic, 7, of Boston, waved their flags from the median on Dorchester Street.
PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF
Sisters Lejla, 3, and Sara Miletovic, 7, of Boston, waved their flags from the median on Dorchester Street.
Reference:https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/03/17/revelers-out-green-force-for-patrick-day-parade/arTYDFmh1Lg4MHOBzn0cRP/story.html

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