The St. Patrick’s Day parade will again follow a snow-shortened route through South Boston when marchers step off on Sunday.
City and parade officials announced on Thursday that they would be shortening the route due to public safety concerns about snow on the ground and in the forecast for Saturday night.
The parade will still kick off from Broadway Station at 1 p.m. and follow West and East Broadway, but it will now end at Farragut Road instead of turning around and heading toward Old Colony Avenue.
“We’re going to do our best to clear Broadway from Broadway Station up to Farragut Road,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said after the meeting at the Mass Bay Credit Union in South Boston Thursday afternoon. “We’ve come to the joint decision that the best way to put on a safe parade, a great family parade, is to run it straight down Broadway.”
The city is bracing for hundreds of thousands of spectators to watch the parade, officials said. Hundreds of marchers, bands and floats will participate.
The parade is being held just one day before spring officially begins on March 20, but wintry weather is predicted for the weekend.
Boston has a 50 percent chance of snow falling on Saturday night and Sunday, and temperatures will only reach the low to mid 30s, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton.
But it’s too soon to say how much snow could fall in Boston, meterologist Matthew Belk said.
“There’s a possibility the storm could completely miss us.” Belk said on Thursday night. “And there’s a possibility it could move closer and drop seven inches of snow over the Cape.”
Snow was the main reason the city first shortened the route in 2015, after a record snowfall in Boston. The city tried to use the same route last year, but parade organizers said the change would violate their First Amendment rights, and a US District Court judge agreed.
“Last year, we were kind of forced into it, we thought,” said Tim Duross, the parade organizer for the Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston. “But this year, we were asked and we all sat down and came to the agreement.”
Duross said the change was necessary because of the large vehicles and equipment used in the parade.
“We have heavy equipment that the Army sends over, we’ve got big tanks, and Clydesdale horses,” he said. “I can only imagine one of these big vehicles going down Telegraph [Hill] with an inch or two of snow on the ground.”
The Public Works Department has assured Duross that any snow that could fall Saturday night would be safely cleared for the parade, “even if they’re the first unit in our parade.”
Michael Brohel, the deputy commissioner of the city’s public works department, said 30 trailer loads of snow have been removed from Broadway, and the street is cleared from curb to curb.
“We’re going to look at sidewalks and see what we could in the next 48 hours,” he said.
Evans said he met earlier this week with liquor stores and bars, and the police would work to enforce laws regarding public and underage drinking. He said the department issued over 500 citations last year.
Liquor stores will close at 4 p.m. and bars at 7 p.m.
“South Boston is a great place to live, we have a great community, and we want it to be a fun family day,” Evans said. “If you’re coming into our community, please just respect it.”
Dylan McGuinness can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org