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St. Patrick’s Day parades

March 17, 1974: Boston’s Mounted Police Unit led the parade up East Broadway. A highlight of the 1974 parade was a team of eight Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses pulling an open red wagon. They are just coming into view at the top of the picture.

Ellis Herwig/Globe Staff

March 17, 1974: Boston’s Mounted Police Unit led the parade up East Broadway. A highlight of the 1974 parade was a team of eight Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses pulling an open red wagon. They are just coming into view at the top of the picture.

First held in South Boston in 1901, the St. Patrick’s Day parade now sees as many as a half-million spectators. What began as an observation of the anniversary of Evacuation Day morphed along the way into a celebration of Boston’s Irish traditions. The parade has on occasion served as a platform for political and social advocacy and protest. The NAACP joined the route in 1964, and viewpoints on the city’s busing crisis in the 1970s were expressed in the parade. In the 1990s gay marchers went to court to gain the right to participate. - Lane Turner and Lisa Tuite

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