You might well ask how we observe Patriots Day in South Boston.
It is one of the most important historical dates in Boston’s history – the start of the American Revolution, Paul Revere’s ride, the Lexington Minutemen, and “the shot that was heard around the world” at the Old North Bridge in Concord. This year of 2016 saw the 120th running of the Boston Marathon – world famous and better than ever. The Red Sox played Monday morning (though they lost to the Blue Jays). Lexington, Concord, and all the minuteman towns had huge celebrations on Monday (except for Sudbury’s rock-ribbed traditionalists, who insist upon the actual date of April 19). The swan boats hit the water in the Public Garden for their 140th springtime launch. Boston paraded and placed wreaths on the graves of heroic horsemen William Dawes and Paul Revere.
Southie observes the day more quietly, but it’s no less meaningful. The South Boston Historical Society, led by President Bob Allison, ably aided and abetted by his hard-working wife Phyllis and his son Phil, put on costumed colonial reenactments at any local school that is interested. This year, the historical society’s players were hosted by the Condon School, South Boston Catholic Academy, Saint John Paul II Academy, South Boston’s EXCEL High School and Saint Peter Academy. Moss Lynch emceed the presentations at these five schools. Any local school is welcome to take part; contact the South Boston Historical Society if you’d like to join the party in 2017.
The costumed players included Bob Allison as Benjamin Franklin, Henry Rodrigues as a Marine on the USS Constitution, Valerie Foxx as colonial poet Phyllis Wheatley, Phil Allison as cannoneer Henry Knox, and this South Boston Online writer as Paul Revere. Most important, the troupe was supported by the fife playing of Doug Quigley and the drumming of Dam Moylan. Students from each school served as patriotic townspeople, getting tri-corner hats in return.
The troupe, quite fittingly, ended their Patriots Day on Dorchester Heights. And Paul Revere did not yell, “the British are coming!” We were all British at that time, so it would have made no sense. He cried, “the Regulars are coming,” or according to something he wrote many years later, “the Regulars are about!” Or perhaps, “are afoot!” (Revere’s handwriting was not of the best).