Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘It’s definitely lived up to the hype’: Crowds gather in South Boston for St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Arthur Mansavage
Floats make their way down the parade route as thousands of spectators watch during the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday, March 17, 2024, in South Boston. (Arthur Mansavage/ Beacon Staff)

South Boston was a sea of partygoers dressed in vibrant green this past Sunday for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

The event was estimated to have over one million attendees from all over the world this year. It was the largest showing at the parade since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Paradegoers came from a wide range of backgrounds. Alex Chitidze, who is originally from Ukraine, is a college student at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. 

“My friend said this is one of the biggest holidays in New England. It’s been a great time,” Chitidze said. “It’s definitely lived up to the hype.” 

The parade kicked off at 1 p.m., starting at Broadway St. and ending in Andrew Square around 5 p.m.

The parade dates back to 1737 and is one of the most energetic events in the whole city of Boston. It symbolizes significant meaning for the Boston Irish community and also carries historic tradition.

St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural holiday that commemorates the passing of the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. The holiday has transformed into a festivity for Irish heritage that includes a parade, music, dancing, drinks, and wearing green attire. 

Stemming from St. Patrick’s use of the shamrock to explain Christian beliefs, the green attire tradition was meant to honor St. Patrick’s legacy and the growth of Christianity in Ireland. The color green also reflects the luxuriant landscape of Ireland; hence, its nickname “Emerald Isle.” In addition to that, green also symbolizes Ireland’s struggle for independence and nationalism.

Held in South Boston, also called “Southie,” the parade starts at Broadway Station and moves up West Broadway, then East Broadway, past South Boston High School to Thomas Park and Dorchester Street, and ends in Andrew Square. South Boston, an area that was the primary destination for early Irish immigrants back in the 19th and early 20th centuries because of the Great Famine in Ireland, is heavily connected with Southie’s identity.

Bo Back, who traveled to Boston from Quebec with his service dog Jazz, talked about why he made the trip. 

“Everybody comes up with a friendly smile and pets my dog,” Back said. “It’s a warm day, no rain, no nothing, it’s awesome.”

Spectators attempting to catch candy from a parade float on Sunday March 17, 2024 in South Boston. (Arthur Mansavage/ Beacon Staff)

Emerson students were also at the parade. Eli Ross, a first-year health and social change major from Los Angeles, was excited to celebrate the holiday with fellow students. 

“This is pretty exciting. This is the first time I have felt this much St. Patrick’s Day energy. We don’t have anything like this in California,” Ross said.   

The paradegoers took many forms of commuting to the event. Many walked the route, while others utilized the MBTA to travel. 

The MBTA released a public service announcement on March 15, describing their preparation for many parade attendees. The MBTA’s CEO, Phillip Eng, commented on how the MBTA implemented several measures to accommodate a large spike in ridership.

“St. Patrick’s Day is a time for celebration, and all of us at the MBTA are proud to do our part so everyone can enjoy the festivities safely,” said Eng in the announcement. “Leave the driving to us, use caution when traversing the system, and let’s all celebrate St. Patrick’s Day together.” 

Those measures include a significant increase in uniformed officers throughout the MBTA system to deter crime and respond swiftly to incidents. This also includes deploying additional crowd management personnel throughout the system, who are strategically positioned to assist with passenger flow, boarding, and disembarking. These measures ensure a safe environment for all in proximity to the MBTA’s services.

The MBTA also encouraged individuals drinking to use public transportation. The MBTA itself was packed with attendees, resulting in each train being full before and after the parade, as well as causing large delays between stops. 

Having large crowds congregate in a singular location for long periods of time sparked safety hazard concerns among city officials.

Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn, whose district includes South Boston, said that major changes in parade management are necessary. 

“[We must] implement a zero tolerance for public drinking, any form of violence, fighting and destruction of property and other quality of life issues,” Flynn said in a Facebook post. “If we are not able to meet basic standards of decency and respect the South Boston neighborhood, the parade should be moved out of South Boston indefinitely.

2024 Boston St. Patrick’s Day
People sitting on a bridge reach out their hands for a running parade goer to high five on Sunday, March 17, 2024, in South Boston. (Madla Walsh/ Beacon Staff)

According to Randy Greeley, the parade commander, this year’s parade consisted of several new floats and performers, including the winners of the 2023 Pop Warner National Championship—the Dorchester Eagles, Lightning McQueen, the Washington D.C. Presidential band, and two Oxen marching along the route.

Rudy Singh, who visited with his friends in Boston from Maryland, said he was ecstatic about the parade and the festivities. 

“It’s our boy’s birthday,” Singh said. “We came all the way up here just for him and this event … we’re having the time of our lives.”

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About the Contributor
Sam Shipman
Sam Shipman, Staff Writer
Sam Shipman (He/Him) is a freshman journalism major from Natick, Massachusetts. He currently is a Staff Writer for the Berkeley Beacon. When he's not reporting he can be found listening to music or spending time with friends.
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