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The St. Patrick's Day Breakfast, 2006
By Rick Winterson

     During this interview, state Sen. Jack Hart appeared relaxed and ready for the gala event that will take place on Sunday morning, March 19.  That event, of course, is the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, which will be held in the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for three hours immediately before the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

     For a few moments, Hart reminisced about how the Breakfast has evolved.  It began at Dorgan’s Bayside, went to the Ironworker’s Hall, and is now at the Convention Center for the second year running.  One of the reasons for the change in locale was the Station fire in Rhode Island that made everyone justifiably aware of the hazards of overcrowded gathering places.  Last year at the Convention Center, 400 attendees were seated.  Another 3 or 400 stood, bringing the total attendance to 700 or more.

     The Breakfast began back in the days of then-state Sens. Powers and Moakley.  If the Breakfast is identified with any one individual, it would have to be Senate President William Bulger.  He emceed – some would say “commanded” - the event for 30 years, bringing to it a raconteurial humor that permanently set the standard.  Steve Lynch, who had been state Senator before he was elected to Congress to succeed Joe Moakley, left his own mark on the affair for seven years.  Jack Hart is well aware he has had some tough acts to follow.

     Jack remembers his baptism of fire, when he took on his first breakfast as the new state Senator from South Boston in 2003.  Contrary to what might be expected, there’s no organization that runs the breakfast.  Whoever is state Senator runs it with his own staff, using his own campaign funds.  Attendance is by invitation, and there’s no charge for tickets.  The only costs underwritten by anyone else are the production costs of the TV broadcast by WB 56 that morning.  As Jack says, “We just took it and ran with it.”

     So what can be expected at the Breakfast this year?  Well, it will open up with song and laughter, led by Jack.  He went to the St. Paul’s Choir School in Cambridge, so he brings a fair talent to the table.  The scrambled eggs are incidental, by the way – the Breakfast is really a three-hour, non-stop, political show.

     In Jack’s words, “Scandal is good.  Controversy sells.”  With extremely little prompting, he volunteered that Vice President Cheney’s hunting adventures, Mitt Romney’s single-term governorship, and Attorney General O’Reilly’s campaign gaffes would be front-and-center topics.

     There is a certain informal formula for making remarks at the breakfast.  It’s all right to zing others, as long as you put yourself down as well.  And the emphasis is on the verb “zing”, not “slash” or “burn”.  In part, the Breakfast is intended to show another, more down-to-earth side of officials and candidates.

     Jack’s own remarks will have three aims:  first, he wants to recognize that the Breakfast also celebrates Evacuation Day; next, he wishes to honor veterans and those men and women on active duty – it’s the 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial; and finally, he will talk about the traditional Irish celebrations of St. Patrick through history.

     Guests will include the state’s constitutional officers, and invitations have been extended to many political candidates.  This may actually be self-protection, but one of Jack’s guests will be that noted terrorist, Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis.  “His mouth runneth over”, as the Good Book says.  Glodis is reputed to enjoy making speeches in prisons, because he says, “I have a captive audience.”   Okay, it may not measure up to Johnny Cash at Folsom, but hey, this is only Massachusetts, for Pete’s sake!

     To fix the Breakfast’s priorities firmly in place, the telephone at the head table will be open to two and only two potential callers – President George Bush and City Councilor Jim Kelly – not necessarily in that order.  So now you know who counts.

     The WB 56 TV Breakfast broadcast will be seen in all of New England, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.  A couple of years ago, Jack was recognized by a lumberjack in New Hampshire.  The only fly in the ointment was that the lumberjack called him “Senator Lynch”.  Later that year, a bartender in an Irish pub in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen told Jack he never missed the TV broadcast.  Jack’s wife, Michele, had to tell the barkeep that the emcee was standing in front of him.  Sic transit Gloria mundi!

If you aren’t there on March 19, be sure to tune in.  It’s a grand occasion.



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