Looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Smokin' Joe's, a fire engine rental company, participates in the St. 2019 Patrick's Day Parade. (Photo by Aaron Ye/BU News Service)

By Taylor Donnelly
Boston University News Service

After two years without a St. Patrick’s Day parade, Boston can look forward to welcoming the event back this weekend.

The parade will start Sunday at 1 p.m. in South Boston and will be sponsored by the beer company Guinness, according to the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council. The route starts at the Broadway T Station, continues down West Broadway, then to East Broadway, and ends at Farragut Road.

“We were expecting to have a 2020 parade and then COVID hit,” said Dave Falvey, president of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council. “[And] in 2021, we never expected to have a parade due to the climate of the world.” 

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council has put on the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day Parade since 1948, with a number of sponsors and organizations. This year’s performers include the Danvers Falcon Marching Band, Colonial Pipers Bagpipe Band, Berkeley Preparatory School Pipe and Drums, and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Band, Honor Guard & Drill Team.

“We are not really expecting quite as many organizations to participate due to not as many people traveling,” said Falvey. “Our priority is to make sure there is a parade, and if it is smaller in scale, I’m sure people will still appreciate it happening.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Massachusetts has the second-highest percentage of people who claim Irish ancestry, with an estimated 19.8% of the population. Massachusetts follows New Hampshire, which has a population of 20.2% claiming Irish ancestry. 

“St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to reflect on the rich culture, heritage and spirit the Irish brought to our city, state and region,” said Colette M. Quinlin, managing director of the Boston Irish Tourism Association (BITA).

And for locals, the parade celebrates more than just St. Patrick’s Day.

The event is also a means of celebrating Evacuation Day, a Boston holiday that commemorates the evacuation of British troops from the city following its siege during the Revolutionary War. 

“It is not just a St. Patrick’s Day parade, it is also on Evacuation Day, which is important to Boston History … [we are] honoring military service,” said Falvey, who served for 19 years.

Restaurants and bars located on or near the parade route look forward to the large sum of revenue it brings, marking yet another reason Bostonians are ready to bring the St. Patrick’s Day Parade back.  

“The whole weekend is the biggest revenue generator for our year,” said Mike Neff, an employee at Tom English’s Cottage. “The parade is a big help for us to make some money since there has been a lot of uncertainty in the restaurant business … I can speak for all bars and restaurants that we certainly need this.”

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