On Tuesday, March 15, a U.S. District Court judge restored the 2016 parade’s original, longer route, allowing it to end in Andrew Square. South Boston’s Allied War Veterans Council held a final meeting Tuesday evening to assure maximum parade safety. The following morning, the USS McFaul (DDG-74), a guided missile cruiser with GE engines, docked; her crew will march in the parade.
It has been quite a parade week so far.
South Boston’s Allied War Veterans Council (by a 9-0 Supreme Court edict in 1994) owns the privilege and responsibility of presenting the annual St. Patrick’s/Evacuation Day Parade in South Boston. But after the council submitted its 2016 parade permit request in April of last year, City Hall’s licensing bureaucracy sat on the request until February. At that time, with just a month to go, city officials informed the Veterans Council that the parade route was to be cut in half – ending on Farragut Road, not in Andrew Square as usual. Two reasons were given for cutting the parade short: cost savings and public safety.
Last weekend, after negotiations with the City of Boston failed to find a solution, the Veterans Council announced it would took legal action. On Tuesday, Judge Richard G. Stearns in Boston’s U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the council, which had filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s decision. Not only did Stearns refer to the 9-0 Supreme Court decision in 1994, he also faulted the city for the long delay in issuing the parade license, as well as the weakness of their reasons for cutting it in half. The parade will now proceed as it has for the last 70 years – up Broadway, right on P to Fourth, and then to Andrew Square via Fourth, Fifth, Dorchester Heights, and Dorchester Street.
Amputating the 2016 parade admittedly became an emotional issue between the Allied War Veterans Council and Boston’s officials. Tim Duross, the 2016 parade organizer, called the parade, “A celebration of family, faith, and community,” and said that, “people come to this parade year after year for the tradition, it’s part of our past.” The full route is very important.
As an editorial comment, now that the parade route issue has finally been settled, let’s shake hands cordially and have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and Evacuation Day weekend. Thursday, March 17, at 9 a.m., the “real” Evacuation Day will see a Memorial Mass in the charming and historic St. Augustine Chapel at Dorchester Street and Sixth. The Mass will be followed by a memorial ceremony and wreath-laying on Dorchester Heights at 10 a.m., in front of the monument “where the mayflower joined the shamrock.” All are welcome to attend. On Friday evening, the South Boston Citizens’ Association holds its 136th Annual Evacuation Day Banquet in the Convention Center. (Call 857-204-5825 for tickets.) It’s always a real “Southie time.”
Tuesday evening, Ed Flynn of the Allied War Veterans Council convened the usual pre-Parade safety meeting in the MassBay Credit Union’s public room. So far, some 130 units have signed up for the parade, which is about average. The Boston Police Department explained its plans for Sunday’s deployment. They asked the public to call 911 at once if they spot any disturbances – any public drinking, rooftop parties, gross public displays, whatever. The EMTs, fire department, MBTA police, and State Police explained their parade strategies. Package store and tavern hours will be limited. Rep. Nick Collins and Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty offered their good wishes. Bill Desmond, the commander of the Veterans Council, concluded the meeting by referring to the history of Dorchester Heights, saying, “this is what it’s all about.” A parade banner honoring the memory of John “Wacko” Hurley was displayed. Jean Shiflett oversaw a tasty collation, complete with a St. Patrick’s Day cake and oatmeal-raisin cookies.
Wednesday morning promptly at 10 a.m., the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul (DDG-74) docked at Black Falcon Pier. A visit from the U.S. Navy is a regular part of South Boston’s Evacuation Day observances, arranged for us by Congressman Steve Lynch. The McFaul’s crew will be South Boston’s guests over this weekend; they will march in the parade on Sunday. Be sure to greet them and wish them well. And perhaps symbolically, the USS McFaul is powered by her GE engines. (As you know, GE is relocating its headquarters group to the South Boston Waterfront during this year and next.) For your information, the USS McFaul (DDG) has been awarded a Battle “E” Award, took part in humanitarian aid to the Republic of Georgia, and was instrumental in a merchant ship’s rescue from Indian Ocean pirates. She’s a warrior, for certain.