The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Northeastern students take part in South Boston’s time-honored St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Devyn Rudnick
Parade spectators cheer while dressed in green clothing and shamrock bead necklaces. An estimated 1 million people were in South Boston for the parade.

An estimated 1 million people, including many college students donned in green hats and gold beads, packed the streets of South Boston March 17 to celebrate Irish culture at the city’s annual hallmark St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By 1 p.m., visitors from across the globe and Northeastern students alike lined the South Boston, commonly known as “Southie,” parade route in anticipation of the city’s famous celebration. Lively spectators ranged from small children to elderly couples, all hollering at the passing parade floats.

With the sun shining through scattered clouds, bagpipes, bands and Minutemen marched up West Broadway following the parade route to Andrew Square. In addition to elaborate floats and dancing Pixar characters, the parade featured several military units and advocacy groups organized by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, or SBAWVC. Northeastern students took part in the festivities. 

A man waves an Irish flag while standing on a fire truck. The St. Patrick’s Day parade has been a South Boston tradition for over 120 years. (Sofia Sawchuk)

“​​It’s my first time doing St. Patrick’s Day in Boston, so I didn’t really know what to expect, but when people started singing country music, I knew it would be fun,” said Lauren Berish, a first-year psychology major at Northeastern University.

Young children and seniors waved to onlookers while they strutted and twirled through the street. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was in attendance along with Gov. Maura Healey, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and Rep. Stephen Lynch.

Residents poured onto the balconies of their homes and kids climbed fences for a better look at the broad spectrum of parade festivities. Throughout the several hours of the parade, people reached for the sky, hoping to catch the green goodies and candy flung from floats. While performers sauntered in shamrock glasses and leprechaun beards, people sat atop the shoulders of their friends for a bird’s eye view and knocked beers with fellow onlookers. 

Despite the parade’s chaotic nature, with condensed crowds and large alcohol consumption, residents of all backgrounds look forward to the celebration. Some nearby businesses offer St. Patrick’s Day promotions to direct foot traffic, and theme parties take over the weekend in preparation. 

“It’s been a little crazy, but we’ve had a fun time,” said Maddie Moskowitz, a first-year psychology major at Northeastern.

Parade onlookers put their hands up as a green and orange trolley bus passes. They reached up to try and catch necklaces and candies from floats and parade participants.

The gleeful traditions have continued for centuries. According to SBAWVC’s website, the festive banquets and parades first commenced in 1737 among the city’s Irish immigrant population as an expression of solidarity. South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade then began in 1901. Generations of politicians, performers and first responders have since marched through the city.

Massachusetts is home to a large Irish population, with 19.8% of residents being of Irish descent. Boston’s many Irish pubs and historical sights showcase Irish culture year-round. 

St. Patrick’s Day is not nearly as prominent in the rest of the country, making Boston’s celebration even more coveted by the out-of-state visitors and residents that participate. 

“My friends and I heard about [the parade] and had to see it for ourselves,” said Vanshika Anand, a first-year international business major at Northeastern. “This is so new to me. You don’t hear about celebrations like these where I’m from in California.” 

No matter where people come from, the city welcomes everyone to wear their best Celtics attire and uphold over 120 years of Irish tradition. This time-honored parade is one way Boston residents preserve Irish culture.

“Even if it’s just the fun aspects, we are keeping the holiday alive,” said Alexis Matthews, a first-year business administration major at Northeastern. 

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