St. Patrick's Day Parade
Anyone who has never been to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston has never been to a St. Patrick's Day Parade period. Boston, known for its large population of Irish immigrants and their descendants, claims the historic achievement of being the first city in America to host a St. Patrick's Day Parade. Since that first parade in 1737, they have only gotten larger and grander. The parade in New York has since become the largest in America, but Boston's is thought to have the most spirit.
The original St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston was actually a protest march of Irish workers who were having a difficult time finding decent work. A celebration was held each year thereafter, but the parade did not become an annual event until 1901, after the Irish population swelled due to immigrants arriving during the Irish potato famine in the 1800s. Since 1947, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council has sponsored the parade.
Date and Route
Today, the parade is not always held on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. The large crowd numbering over 600,000 strong and the ubiquitous celebrations were found to disrupt local business during the week, so it is now held on a weekend. The parade kicks off at the end of West Broadway Street and continues for three miles down East Broadway to East 4th Street, 5th Street and through Thomas Park. The parade emerges from the park to Telegraph Street and Dorchester Street before ending at Andrew Square.
A Family Affair
Some locals and tourists avoid the South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, believing it to be a raucous drunken party only for the Irish. However, the parade is a family affair and parents bring children of all ages and all backgrounds to enjoy the festivities. While some parade attendees show signs of intoxication, the Boston Police Force is out en masse and strictly enforces the public drinking, public intoxication and disorderly conduct laws.
Other St. Patrick's Day Festivities
The parade is not the only event of the day on which it occurs. Local pubs, restaurants, entertainment venues and museums all hold special events and attractions for locals and tourists alike. West and East Broadway Streets are filled with Irish restaurants and pubs that prepare traditional Irish foods and offer pints of Guinness and Irish coffee.