City urges restraint at St. Patrick’s Day parade

 The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston is expected to draw about 500,000. Neighborhood residents often do not appreciate the excessive consumption of alcohol during the parade, police say.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston is expected to draw about 500,000. Neighborhood residents often do not appreciate the excessive consumption of alcohol during the parade, police say.

Officer James Kenneally, Boston police spokesman, has one message for revelers planning on attending St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston on Sunday: “We’re hoping that people are going to make our jobs easy - plain and simple.’’

As the city gears up for St. Patrick’s Day festivities, city officials are urging paradegoers and revelers to practice restraint in South Boston.

In a joint statement released Friday, Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis and Mayor Thomas M. Menino said police will have zero tolerance for public consumption of alcohol.


“Throughout the holiday weekend, the Boston Police Department will be taking steps to increase patrols, focusing not only on the parade route . . . but also at drinking establishments,’’ the statement said. “Our intent is to encourage people to celebrate responsibly while strictly adhering to all alcohol laws.’’

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The city has restricted hours for liquor stores in South Boston Sunday: They can be open only noon to 4 p.m. Bars in the neighborhood will stop allowing patrons to enter after 6:30 p.m., they will stop serving alcohol at 7 p.m., and customers will have to leave by 7:30 p.m.

Police also plan to keep an eye on house parties. They have set up a “party line’’ at 617-343-5500 that residents can call if festivities in their neighborhood get out of control. Residents are prohibited from standing on the roofs of their houses to watch the parade unless they have a rooftop deck.

At last year’s parade, police arrested 11 people and issued 363 citations, most for public drinking, according to police.

“Speaking to residents of South Boston, they tell us they love the parade, but they don’t love the excessive consumption of alcohol by some who attend the parade,’’ Kenneally said.


Adrian Skeehan, a bartender at Blackthorn Pub in South Boston, said St. Patrick’s Day revelry has calmed down in recent years. Police have cracked down on public drunkenness, he said, and paradegoers generally have more respect.

While the bar must close early that evening, Skeehan said, he believes it is for the best. “We’re kind of glad to close at that stage,’’ he said with a chuckle.

Police will also have surveillance cameras installed along the South Boston parade route to monitor the floats and the crowds on Sunday, Kenneally said. The video will be recorded and may be used as evidence in the case of arrests, he said.

“It’s an eye in the sky, if you will,’’ Kenneally said. “It will help us monitor the parade, and in the event we need to respond, we’ll be able to do so effectively with the use of these cameras.’’

Ed Flynn - commander of the Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the parade - said the group has worked closely with police to ensure that the parade remains safe.


“It’s a family event, and we strongly discourage people drinking along the parade route,’’ Flynn said.

The Allied War Veterans Council rejected requests from two gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender activist groups seeking to participate in the parade.

Flynn declined to comment on the issue, saying, “I’m just going to focus on the parade.’’

The MBTA will run extra trains along the Red Line Sunday to accommodate the large crowds. Extra service will be provided from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Bus 7, which runs from South Boston’s City Point to South Station. The parade, which is expected to draw about 500,000 people to South Boston, will begin at 12:45 p.m. at the Broadway MBTA station, moving southeast to P Street, then turning west. After the parade passes Thomas Park, it will conclude at Andrew Square.

On Saturday, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley will say a noon Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Washington Street. Terrence Donilon, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, said O’Malley will talk about the importance of St. Patrick to the Catholic tradition. A choir will sing Irish hymns, and staff will hand out shamrocks to parishioners.

And at 10 a.m. Saturday, the National Park Service’s Evacuation Day ceremony at Dorchester Heights Memorial in South Boston will celebrate the expulsion of British soldiers from Boston in 1776.

“This is something we do every year, rain or shine, doesn’t matter what day of the week,’’ said Sean Hennessey, a National Park Service spokesman. “This is an important date in the calendar of commemorative events around the American Revolution.’’

Martine Powers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.