St. Patrick’s Day Parade may become casualty of snow
The relentless snowfall this winter has entombed cars, street corners, and curbs. Towering icy mounds have transformed sidewalks into trenches and pinched roads into single lanes.
Now, the snow may bury South Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The annual fete is scheduled to step off in two weeks, but stubborn snow berms clog the traditional route, which winds through narrow, residential streets.
“We’re trying to see if there is a way to do something creative to continue the parade,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Friday on WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio.” “But today, I don’t see how it goes through the neighborhoods.”
Parade organizer Brian Mahoney told the Globe on Friday that while he remained hopeful the parade will run as scheduled at 1 p.m. March 15, he understood the predicament.
“Sometimes, reality intercedes,” Mahoney said. “The reality is you can’t see out the front window of your house because the snowbanks are so high.”
Forecasters expect temperatures to reach the mid-40s next week, but that may not be warm enough for a significant melt.
And some forecasts suggest more snow next week.
“If we get any more snow, it’s kaput,” Mahoney said. “But if we get no more snow and it’s warm and it rains, maybe it can work.”
In an interview with the Globe, Walsh said the city had not yet focused snow-removal efforts on the parade route. Crews are using bulldozers and dump trucks to clear accumulated snow across the city. That will continue this weekend, Walsh said, with a particular focus on polling places in East Boston, where a special election is scheduled for Tuesday.
“I have concerns about the amount of snow on the route and the amount of cars buried that haven’t been dug out on the route,” Walsh said. “It’s not snow anymore, it’s ice.”
Attempting to clear snow from the route would be “very costly to the city and very complicated logistically” to notify residents and get cars moved, the mayor said.
The mayor and City Council President Bill Linehan plan to meet with parade organizers next week to discuss what can be done.
“You could shorten the route, you could change the route, and you could change the day,” Linehan said, adding that one year the parade was postponed until April.
Walsh said he wanted to discuss the issues with organizers before making any decisions. But the mayor also said the parade could be moved downtown or to another location where snow has been removed.
One possibility: Walsh suggested the route taken earlier this month by the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl parade, which traveled along Boylston, Tremont, and Cambridge streets. Or perhaps the St. Patrick’s Day Parade could march from South Boston to downtown.
Organizers are open to any idea to help the parade go forward, Mahoney said, but he expressed skepticism about changing the route. The city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is connected to Evacuation Day, which commemorates a Revolutionary War victory on March 17, 1776.
Colonists forced British troops to evacuate by secreting cannons on Dorchester Heights, a prominent hill in South Boston that the parade traditionally passes.
This year, the St Patrick’s Day Parade holds particular significance for Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants and a regular participant for many years. But when he became mayor last year, Walsh followed the precedent set by his predecessor and boycotted the parade because organizers refused to allow openly gay marchers to participate.
Walsh lobbied to end the prohibition, and this year organizers approved an application by OUTVETS, a group honoring lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender military veterans.
“This is long overdue,” Walsh said, adding, “This year, I look forward to marching in the parade.”
But the snow, Walsh said, will make it “extremely difficult” to have the route ready in two weeks.
“I really don’t want to see it canceled,” Walsh said, “because it’s a tradition.”