SCITUATE — It may be 30 miles from the traditional St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in South Boston, but the town of Scituate held its own shamrock-studded breakfast Sunday morning, a Republican answer to the Southie show that draws a who’s who of the state’s Democrats.
“It’s a little tradition that has grown. We’re competing a bit with the South Boston festivities,” said State Senator Robert Hedlund who emceed the event, now in its fourth year. “This is certainly not on the scale of Boston. But this is getting better every year,” he said. “The Boston one is getting too sterile. . . . It’s too predictable.”
More than 100 people,clad in shades of emerald, showed up to the Scituate Country Club for corned beef and digs at the Democrats.
Two Republican Senate hopefuls, Michael Sullivan and Gabriel Gomez, spoke, while the third candidate, Representative Daniel Winslow, chose to attend the Southie event instead. Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald, Jr., Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, and State Representative Geoff Diehl also took turns at the microphone.
State Republican Party leader Kirsten Hughes, a professional actress and singer, sang “Danny Boy,” as she often does at local St. Patrick’s Day events.
The speakers rallied behind all three Republican Senate candidates, recognizing that the party will be in for a difficult general election fight against the Democratic nominee, either Representative Stephen F. Lynch or Representative Edward J. Markey.
“I say this in all seriousness,” said Reed Hillman, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, speaking on behalf of Winslow. “Dan Winslow and I are both committed to unequivocally supporting whoever the nominee is . . . Three great candidates, any one of them we would be blessed to have in Washington.”
Though the Scituate breakfast is a fraction of the size of the Southie event, those in attendance said it is refreshing to have an alternative to the Democratic-dominated gathering on St. Patrick’s Day.
Gomez noted that he wasn’t even invited to the South Boston breakfast.
“I think the people down in Southie are scared of the Republicans going there,” Gomez told a reporter after the event. “They’re worried we’re going to show them up. They’re worried we’re going to get our conservative Republican ideas out there, and that were going to shine over the Democrats. And I think they’re afraid, so they didn’t invite us.”
Janet Fogarty Kelley, who started the breakfast, called the Republican event more inclusive than the Democratic one — but admitted, laughing, that she did not invite the Democrats out to Scituate.
“I guess — maybe not all that inclusive,” she said.
After the breakfast dispersed around noon, many attendees headed to the St. Patrick’s Day parade just down the street, where revelers sporting festive hats donned strings of green beads tossed out by marchers.
The parade, now in its 19th year, drew between 15,000 and 20,000 people, according to an estimate from parade chairman Ed Kelley. It is the South Shore’s answer to the Southie event, he said.
“I usually go to Southie,” said Kevin Cullity, 41, of Pembroke, as he sipped Dogfish Head IPA from a red Solo cup on First Parish Road.
This is his first year at the Scituate gala, he said, but it won’t be his last — 10 years of Southie-style celebration was enough. The Scituate parade is wonderful, he said: not too crowded, not too rowdy.
“I don’t want to deal with Southie,” he said.
Victoria and Scott Burgess, transplants from Boston, said this year was their third Scituate parade. Growing up, they said, they went to the Southie parade — but the lower-key festivities in Scituate work better for their 7-year-old twins.
“It’s always a good parade. It’s really family-oriented, our kids can have a good time. It’s safe,” said Victoria.
Some Scituate natives said they would never consider going to the Southie parade — and anyways, Scituate, they said, has more Irish in it.
The town’s nickname, after all, is the Irish Riviera.
“It’s the most Irish town in Massachusetts!” said Cindy Hazen, 56, as she sat in the open hatchback of a minivan surrounded by her eight grandchildren.
Hazen has lived in Scituate her whole life, and used to drive a school bus filled with puppies in the parade. There is no contest between Southie and Scituate, she said — the Scituate event is the authentic Irish parade.
“This is where all the Irish settled before they came to Boston,” she said. “Around here, everybody is friendly.”