To say that John “Wacko” Hurley is the Parade Organizer of the annual St. Patrick’s Day/ Evacuation Day extravaganza is accurate, but it doesn’t come close to describing everything that he puts into it.
For one thing, Wacko often has to say “No”. The Parade attracts nationwide, even worldwide attention, and the calls for inclusion in the next Parade will start immediately after the last unit disbands in this year’s Parade. Limousine companies offer free vehicles, but they are just looking for some publicity.
Many vendors call Wacko for a permit to sell their wares, but only the Police Department can issue those. Some of the vendors offer to pay for a place on the street, but the Allied War Veterans Council, who sponsor the Parade, accept no such money. Essentially, the South Boston Mayor’s Race and a host of corporate and individual donations fund the Parade
Some of the arrangements can be a little tricky as well. How do you slot in a pipe band at 50 steps per minute, when other marching bands step off at 60 per minute? There are a lot of politicians, both incumbents and wannabes, who insist on being right up front. Wacko claims he threatens to put them behind the Clydesdales, with their well known sanitary habits. After that, the pols gladly accept what Wacko gives them, particularly those who are marching on foot.
The Parade arrangements are finally reduced to a tall stack of 3x5 index cards, which then become the work of the Parade Marshals. These are the unsung heroes of the Parade. They work so conscientiously in the staging areas that many of them don’t get to watch the Parade.
But enough about the arrangements. What can you and your guests expect to see?
Well, the weekend’s festivities really start when the USS Philippine Sea (CG-58) docks at the Black Falcon Pier on Thursday, March 16, at 4 p.m. It will anchor well up the Reserve Channel, so the view from Summer Street will be excellent. Get there around 2:30 or 3 p.m. and watch it come in. The ship is commanded by Capt. Eugene F. Moran, Jr., USN; he’ll be sending a 50-sailor contingent to march in the Parade.
The Parade kicks off from the end of Broadway promptly at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, when Mayoral runner-up Tom White blows his silver whistle. The Parade Chief Marshal Steve Greig will be in the forefront. The 2006 Mayor of South Boston, Brian Mahoney, will ride in the Claddagh Society limousine.
The New Hampshire Horse Guard will be here for the first time. The Queens College marching unit is coming here from Canada for the first time also. This is a major operation – they number 150 in their band.
Among our oldest friends are the Clydesdales, the Hallamore and the Bud teams. Watch them as the band music starts. These spirited animals become high-stepping performers when they hear the brass and the drumbeats.
We have reported it before, but there will be lots for the kids to see – the Star Wars New England Garrison, the Cycling Murrays on their unicycles, stiltmen called the Boston Beanstalks, Ultimate Self Defense, the Woods School of Dance, the Mass Mutiny Women’s Football team in a duck vehicle, and much more.
A large number of bands and color guards will participate – 30 or more. There will be many pipe bands and marching units that are really too numerous to list separately. But if you like musical variety, the Parade will have it – the Jambalaya Jazz Band from Salem, the Hot Tamale Band, the New Liberty Dixieland Band, the Mad Bavarian Brass Band (oompah!), and Blues Mobile Car & Music.
The floats, the smiles, and the incredible colors will entrance you. And the weather will be excellent. You heard it here. And we’ll see you there.