St. Patrick’s Day Parade brings holiday spirit, Irish culture to South Boston


Ethan Valery

A man waves an Irish flag during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Sunday. The parade drew over a million people to South Boston to celebrate the holiday.

Juliette Piovoso, news correspondent

Approximately one million people flocked to the streets of South Boston Sunday for the 122nd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade hosted by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council.

The 30-degree weather hardly deterred those festively adorned in leprechaun costumes and dressed head-to-toe in Irish green. As hundreds of Irish flags waved in the wind, spectators lined the route and cheered as the parade passed by.

The 3.5-mile route, beginning at Broadway Station on West Broadway and ending at Andrew Square, showcased a variety of Boston’s finest, including local businesses, nonprofits, community members, homegrown bands and impressively constructed floats. The Boston Police Department started the procession off with their very own bagpipe band, the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums

“This parade is insane,” Massachusetts College of Art and Design student Emily Harding said. “It is better than I could have ever imagined.” 

Harding attended the parade with fellow Mass Art student Hannah Hall. 

“The whole place is just so energetic and electric. I love it here,” Hall said.

Though most of the parade’s attendees were locals, Megan Harrigan and Toby Akers traveled from Virginia to watch the parade marches. 

Both Harrigan and Akers were outfitted in matching Leprechaun-onesies.

“The best part of the parade was definitely the live Irish music and the biker gangs,” Harrigan said. 

Nearly 20% of Massachusetts residents identify as having Irish ancestry, according to U.S. Census Data. Many of the parade’s attendees have attended the event most of their life. 

“I have been coming to this parade for almost three decades. My favorite part is the camaraderie and the people,” South Boston resident Michael Donnely said. “For me, it’s like the night before Thanksgiving when you run into people you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s a family gathering.” 

Many Irish Bostonians said while the parade sufficiently celebrates the holiday, it more notably serves as a way to reinvigorate Irish culture.   

“This parade is, above all, a cultural thing. I was brought up here, and this parade was something you always would attend to show your roots,” Donnely said. “This parade is so special because of its deep Irish culture, especially in South Boston. It really preserves our culture and keeps it going.” 

Thomas Moore, a longtime resident of Boston, has also been coming to the parade for over 25 years. 

“What makes this parade so special is the heritage of the area and the fact that people like to party and have a good time. The parade brings both those things together,” Moore said. 

One man from Ireland, Adam Kennedy, traveled to Boston to experience the event because he heard it was “the best St. Patrick’s day parade in all the states,” he said. 

Although Kennedy admits nothing compares to the spirit of his home country, he acknowledged that Boston has accurately captured much of Ireland’s culture. 

“While the parade is certainly different from back home, you have done a good job of replicating many of the features, especially the culture,” Kennedy said. “I would give you an A for effort.”