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  Saturday, November 29, 2014
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A Family Friendly Parade
By Rick Winterson

     The issue of excessive and public drinking at the St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day Parade is being addressed.  The group known as “South Boston CAN Reduce Underage Drinking” has had two meetings so far, and will be working on eliminating any public drinking by the Parade’s spectators. 

     One key feature will be setting up so-called “Family Zones” along the Parade route.  In 2004, there was one of them; last year there were two – at the Action Center and Laboure.  Plans for the 2006 Parade will be announced soon.  Family Zones are sidewalk areas for parents and children, the elderly, and anyone who wishes to watch the Parade undisturbed.  Water and toilet facilities are made available; favors for the kids are given out. 

     Most important, drinking or gross behavior isn’t allowed.  The Boston Police cooperate in this effort, as do the Allied War Veterans Council members.  In fact, the Council’s Parade slogan this year is “Pride of the Old, Spirit of the New, Continuing a South Boston Tradition”.

     For those of you who are relatively new to South Boston – five years or less – this is a problem that has come up before.  Then Mayor Raymond Flynn was honored on the 1984 Parade, when he marched with his entire family.  We quote his comments made to the Globe (the March 8, 1984, issue), before the Parade.  Flynn said, “ I am honored to be recognized.  This is a family day.  It is a religious and patriotic Parade.  The public drinking at the Parade has disturbed me for some time.”  Commissioner Jordan, who led the Boston Police Department at that time, said, “The crackdown on drinking at the Parade has met with much success and cooperation from the (South Boston) community.”

     In 1988, the Allied War Veterans Council came up with this slogan:  “Say NO to Drugs – Celebrate with Pride.”  That theme included public drinking.  That was back in the days of SoBAD and its predecessor, “Pride and Prevention”.  There’s nothing new here.  Once again, South Boston is simply trying to reclaim the Parade from spectators who have become public nuisances.

     Why did this problem come up again?

     It is difficult to write this, but it started back in 2002, during the first Parade after 9/11.  Many first responders and Ground Zero workers took part in the Parade.  Unfortunately, some of them had a significant buzz on before the Parade even began.  Many spectators along the parade route gave these marchers more to drink (much more).  As a result, some marchers couldn’t keep their feet.  Others relieved themselves in public.  It was a crude, disrespectful way to salute the memories of their comrades, who fell on 9/11.

     And this behavior continued a year later, in the 2003 Parade.  In a way, it was “winked at” in 2002, but it could not be ignored when it happened again the next year.

     The Parade is for you, your families, and your friends and guests.  It’s a marvelous spectacle – among the largest in the nation.  Everyone’s cooperation is needed on Sunday, March 19.  And you are invited to enjoy the Parade from one of the Family Zones.     



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