I can’t help but notice the increased amounts of Kiss me I’m Irish t-shirts, Leprechaun hats, four-leaf clover pins, shamrock shakes, and green beer which means St. Patrick’s Day must be near. With St. Patrick’s Day comes the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, held every year in South Boston.
This year the parade will be Sunday March 18th, starting at 1pm. The parade route starts at West Broadway T stop and continues along West Broadway through East Broadway to East 4th, to East 5th and around Thomas Park. The parade continues down Telegraph Street over to Dorchester Street and concludes at Andrew Square.
Why South Boston?
According to Allied War Veterans Council, the history of the parade goes back to the American Revolution. In 1776, 55 cannons traveled to Dorchester Heights from Fort Ticonderoga on General John Henry Knox’s orders. In an effort of bolstering the appearance of strength, trees were cut down, hollowed out, and blackened over fire to look like cannons. On March 17th, orders were given that in order to pass safely, you had to know the password, which was “St. Patrick.” The British, not knowing the password or that some of the cannons were trees, saw what they were up against and left Boston. This event became known as Evacuation Day.
St. Patrick’s Day parades have been going on in Boston since 1879, however it took until the community became interested in local history to start celebrating Evacuation Day along with St. Patrick’s Day and make it a city holiday in 1901. Which is also when the city constructed the Dorchester Heights Monument, the site where General Knox had positioned the cannons. With the popularity of the combination of St. Patrick’s Day and Evacuation Day, Suffolk County made it a holiday in 1938. Because of the large Irish population endorsing the holiday, a law declaring the holiday was signed in 1941 using both black and green ink.
For more history and information about the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, visit their site.