How far back does Boston's St. Patrick's Day history go?
So this is a party times two: the joint celebration of St. Patrick’s Day and Evacuation Day, the holiday no one outside of Suffolk County has ever heard of. For those not up on their Revolutionary War history, Evacuation Day honors General George Washington and his fortification of Dorchester Heights (a terrific viewing spot for the parade, FYI); this caused the British to (wait for it) evacuate Boston on St. Patrick’s Day. Evacuation Day was made an official local holiday in 1901, that year, South Boston held a parade to celebrate, and the tradition was born. (FYI, our state legislature has periodically debated getting rid of both Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day, citing the work hours lost. To which we say: Pfffffft.)
The parade was justly mired in controversy for decades owing to its decision to ban LGBTQ groups from participation. But a new day has dawned: The new operations director of the event is Bryan Bishop, the founder of OUTVETS, an LGBTQ group that just two years ago was initially banned from marching in the parade. His vision? “I would love for this parade to eventually be on par with Macy’s,” Bishop said last summer. We love a man unafraid to take on New York.
PS: There is as yet no word whether the Veterans for Peace will be allowed to participate this year. Denied entry for years, the organization instead created the Peace Parade, which follows the main event and rallies for peace, equality, jobs, environmental stewardship, and social and economic justice.
What else is there to do that weekend?
There’s the usual: the Dropkick Murphys’ four-day run of shows at House of Blues; the annual St. Patrick’s Day Road Race before the parade; the “you’re not invited” St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast; and “you’re all invited!” Irish sessions at the Burren, Black Rose, and Brendan Behan. Anna’s Taqueria is bringing back its corned beef and cabbage burrito on March 17 (all eight stores, while supplies last). A Sunday St. Paddy’s day also means Irish-themed brunches galore, both along the parade route and throughout the city at large (yes, green eggs figure in).
Planning on pregaming? Game On! kicks off the weekend with a Friday night throwdown sponsored by Jameson Whiskey; Dorchester Brewing Co. is bringing in Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen on Saturday to offer its creative take on Irish fare; and Lansdowne Pub plans a three-day, Guinness-soaked party with live music and giveaways.