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March 23, 2011

Tim Duross, Parade Director

By Rick Winterson

  We take orderly parades for granted, but they don’t form up and step off by themselves.  It takes a man like Tim Duross to arrange the order-of-march roster and to oversee the Parade volunteers, who get the St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day Parade successfully moving along.

  As everyone knows, the St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day Parade possesses more than a century of history and tradition.  It stretches back to 1901 – the year when ground was broken for the Dorchester Heights Monument, and the newspapers of the time began reporting on the L Street Brownies’ Annual Polar Plunge.

  For many of those years, the Parade wound through Downtown Boston.  In the fifties, the route of march was “brought home” to South Boston.  Since then, it has started and finished at Andrew Square or Broadway Square via City Point.  Every other year, the Parade would step off from Andrew Square; the next, it would begin at Broadway Station.

  In recent years, the Parade has stepped off only from Broadway Station.  The staging area is extensive – marching bands and travel buses in the Gillette parking lot (a big “thank you” to them), pipe and military units along the Kelly Bridge, floats on the Fourth Street Bridge, and miscellaneous Parade entries down Dorchester Avenue.  When you walk through that area, you see a scene that seems absolutely chaotic.

  This chaos is aggravated by crowds spilling out of the Broadway “T” Station, the news and television crews, and patrons in the local watering holes.  But there is a hidden order to all of this.  It’s brought to the staging area by Parade Director Tim Duross and his crew of approximately 20 liaison volunteers – volunteers like Mike Thompson, John Joyce, Kevin Dillon, and Wayne Fontes.  Many of them come from Dorchester.  In return for their efforts on March 20, the volunteers from South Boston will help out with the Dorchester Day Parade in June.

  In an interview with South Boston Online, Tim Duross mentioned some of the guidelines he uses in directing the Parade.  The roster goes through perhaps 20 changes before Parade Day itself.  Each Parade entrant – 125 of them this year - is posted to a slot on the roads and parking lots around Broadway Station.  Fittingly enough, First Responders from Boston step off first, followed by the BPD Gaelic Column Pipes & Drums (the Staff Band).  The Parade Chief Marshal, John Zebris, comes next, followed by the horse units.

  Because horses leave “trademarks” behind them, large wheeled vehicles are dispatched directly after them to keep these trademarks as unobtrusive as possible.  Each unit that plays music must be separated from other musical units by two or three slots.  This gets a little tricky, because pipe bands march at 50 beats per minute; brass bands step along at 60 beats per minute.

  And, of course, large gaps have to be kept to a minimum.  These can be caused by halts for TV or by elected officials greeting their constituents.  And there is one unwritten but ironclad rule:  if you try to step off earlier than scheduled, Tim will move you backwards instead.  If you say, “Wacko Hurley okayed it.”, you’ll end up marching right in front of the street sweepers that conclude the Parade.

  On the personal side, Parade Director Tim Duross was born and brought up in Quincy.  He and Nancy (Linehan) Duross, whom you probably know as the Receptionist at the Health Center, have shared a long, loving marriage, blessed with four children – Patrick (a school police officer), Taylor (studying special education at Bridgewater), Martin (a student at South Boston High), and Molly (in the Perry School).  They live on Bowen Street.

  Tim runs a safety equipment installation business with his brother Tom.  He enjoys motorcycling and time with the family at the Duross cottage in Bridgeton, Maine.  He also water skis and “weight boards” behind his Mastercraft competition boat.

  It’s worth repeating – because of their work in the staging area, Tim and his volunteers haven’t been able to watch the Parade for nearly 20 years.  For that matter, they don’t get to watch the Dorchester Day Parade in June, either.

  When Tim is asked why he continues to direct the Parade, he replies, “I believe it’s important to teach our children to ‘give back’, and to be proud of our community.  How lucky they are to live in a great place like South Boston.  I love South Boston; I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

  Well spoken, Tim.  Thanks for the interview.



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