scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Parade organizers outraged by shorter route

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2015.DINA RUDICK/GLOBE STAFF

Organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston on Wednesday blasted the city for shortening the route and urged the public to contact Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office to ask that the event’s traditional path be restored.

“We stand united in opposition of the restriction put on us by local government,” said Tim Duross, lead organizer of the parade run by the Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston.

He spoke during an afternoon news conference in front of a monument at Dorchester Heights that commemorates a Revolutionary War victory and is part of the traditional parade route, but not the abbreviated one the city approved on Friday.


“Changing this route unnecessarily disrupts and insults our community and our heritage,” Duross said.

The permit for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which was issued Friday by the Boston Transportation Department, said the march is shortened to “mitigate public safety and congestion concerns.”

City officials shortened the route last year because the winter’s record snowfall had clogged neighborhood streets.

Last year’s abbreviated route, which measured about 2 miles, was easier for officers to patrol and for emergency vehicles to navigate because it took up a smaller stretch of South Boston, Police Commissioner William B. Evans said Tuesday.

The commissioner credited the shortened route for fewer episodes of public drinking and disorderly conduct.

Evans said last year’s shorter parade helped lower police overtime costs by $90,000 and required about 150 fewer officers than 2014, the last time marchers followed the traditional route.

Calls for police assistance dropped from 239 to 166, Evans said, and requests for emergency medical services dipped from 143 to 63 from 2014 to 2015.

On Wednesday, organizers urged the public to contact Walsh’s office and ask that the traditional route be accepted.

“Please help us maintain the traditional parade route as a salute to all of South Boston veterans,” said William Desmond, commander of the Allied War Veterans, during the news conference.


“If it ain’t broke, folks, you know the line,” he said. “Don’t fix it.”

Asked for comment afterward, a spokeswoman for Walsh forwarded a statement that the mayor released on Tuesday.

“After consulting with Commissioner Evans, I have decided that it is in the best interest of public safety, while balancing the historic tradition of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, to use the same route that we did last year for this year’s parade,” Walsh said.

Duross, the parade organizer, said Wednesday that his group also cares about public safety and can work with the city to mitigate any concerns on the traditional route.

“If public drinking is our crime, we plead guilty as charged,” Duross said. “But we think much worse things have happened in other neighborhood events.”

The abbreviated route will begin on West Broadway at Dorchester Avenue, and follow West Broadway to East Broadway, Evans said. The parade is scheduled for 1 p.m. on March 20.

The new route means marchers will not pass several landmarks, including Dorchester Heights, some neighborhood veterans’ posts, and the home of the late John “Wacko” Hurley, a longtime parade organizer who died last year.

Organizers are concerned the shortened route will force large crowds into a smaller area and will strand paradegoers far from South Boston’s subway stations.

Two neighborhood residents decried the shortened route during brief interviews near the monument.


“I think these men and women should be honored,” said one woman, who would only give her first name, Barbara. “We’ve put up with enough.”

Her friend, who would only identify herself as Carol, agreed.

“The worst public safety [problems are] on Broadway,” she said. “That’s where they want to keep it? Shame.”

In a related matter, the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts protested the inclusion of two gay advocacy groups and urged the Allied War Veterans Council to remove the name of St. Patrick from the parade.

“It no longer has any meaningful connection to the Catholic religion of the Apostle of Ireland,” the League said in a statement.

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle said that the organization wants the named changed because of participation by OUTVETS and Boston Pride.

The League said their participation is “radically incongruent with a parade named in honor of a Catholic saint.”

Laura Crimaldi of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.