As complaints mount, Walsh firm on Patriots parade
Urges patience with snow removal
Mayor Martin J. Walsh remained determined to mark the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl triumph with a rolling celebration Wednesday despite the growing frustration of residents bedeviled by snow-clogged intersections, epic traffic snarls, and sluggish mass transit.
Walsh’s decision — coming after two monstrous storms in one week dumped 40.5 inches of snow on the city — provoked ire in some quarters, lighting up Twitter with a fusillade of dismay and incredulity.
“Hey @marty_walsh any chance you might plow through the leather district and south station pedestrian access. Or do they need a parade,” wrote a Twitter user identified as Chad T. Lovett.
But the mayor, a longtime Patriots season ticket holder, stood firm, pledging that the city would clear the route for the duck boat procession and the athletes aboard. He also promised the city would not divert snow-removal resources from other neighborhoods in the service of a sports spectacular.
“We can have a parade in the city of Boston,’’ Walsh said at a press conference at City Hall Tuesday. “I think a lot of people are excited about a parade, and they want a parade. It’s been what we’ve always done after a championship team wins a championship.”
During his briefing with reporters, Walsh at times appeared defensive, swatting down suggestions about the wisdom of staging the parade given the snow and cold. He said the celebration could not be delayed because many of the Patriots will be heading out of town for vacations.
“I don’t want to debate this,’’ Walsh shot back, during one exchange with a reporter. “This has been a tradition in the city of Boston.”
On Twitter and across the neighborhoods, exasperated Bostonians delivered a resounding message to their mayor about his choice.
In East Boston, Lamson Court remained blanketed in snow Tuesday morning. To make a point about the slow pace of snow removal, Jennifer McCarthy said her husband spray-painted the word “plow” and underlined it with an arrow on a snow bank.
McCarthy said the city should focus on streets like hers “instead of making it a priority to celebrate the Patriots.”
When asked how spectators should make their way to the parade — which begins in Copley Square and ends at City Hall Plaza — the mayor did not acknowledge the serial delays besetting the T, whose chief said the transit agency would be unable to add service.
“I suggest everyone take the MBTA. Don’t drive into town,’’ the mayor said. “There’s really no parking now.”
But frustrations were rising like mounting snowbanks.
“Pls postpone parade so commute can be safe for all,’’ wrote a Twitter user whose handle is RMiskel.
“Open schools, clear roads, and a functioning infrastructure trump a parade any day. Priorities???’’ wrote another Twitter user, Gian Fabbri.
Along the parade route, Sam Wallace, president of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, said there is still much more snow removal to do. While sidewalks were clear, he said roads were still “a mess.”
“I don’t know how they will get [people] in and out of here,’’ Wallace said. “It will be an amazing feat, unless they come in one of those little circus cars that have . . . people coming out of them.”
Brendan Kearney, communications manager for WalkBoston, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving walking conditions, urged parade spectators to use caution.
“It’s going to be difficult for pedestrians to even walk down the sidewalks, let alone try to see over giant snow mounds,’’ Kearney said.
Walsh seemed committed to having the parade as soon as Malcolm Butler made his game-sealing interception Sunday. Even as forecasters predicted another 10 to 14 inches of snow — or more — atop the mounds from last week’s blizzard, Walsh sent an e-mail congratulating the football team and declaring, “Cue the duck boats!”
As snow pelted the city Monday and dangerous cold settled in, the mayor held a news conference and handed out drafts of the parade route, with a flotilla of 25 duck boats and five flat-bed trucks to ferry the Super Bowl champs on Tuesday.
Despite the focus on clearing the parade route, Walsh vowed Monday the city would not drain resources from other neighborhoods and said he had 600 plows working that day — from Hyde Park to East Boston.
“We have an entire city to get up and running,’’ Walsh said Monday. “There are people who are at work and aren’t worrying about whether the Patriots won the Super Bowl or not. They’re worried about making sure they get to work and get to their families.”
But by Monday evening, Walsh delayed the parade, citing the worsening weather.
The mayor returned to the microphones Tuesday morning to say the parade was on for 11 a.m. Wednesday, beginning at the Prudential Tower, proceeding down Boylston Street, turning onto Tremont Street and then Cambridge Street, and ending at City Hall Plaza.
The mayor’s office said no additional plows were devoted for snow removal along the parade route. Since Thursday, the city borrowed snow melters from Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Port Authority to clear Tremont Street — as well as Mattapan, East Boston, the North End, and Franklin Park, said the mayor’s press secretary Bonnie McGilpin.
Numerous pieces of equipment were out late Tuesday night working to clear the parade route of snow, along with hitting other spots in the city.