The wounds were fresh and deep for Old Southie’s representatives on the sidewalk Sunday as the first bagpipes and drums bleated and clacked their way down Broadway.
It was frustrating when the city’s mayor and police commissioner teamed up to call for a St. Patricks’ Day celebration route cleaved in half, said those who’ve grown up wearing green and watching the parade march by.
Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans this year called for a shortened path for marchers and floats, arguing it would be easier to watch over parade-goers in a more confined area. Organizers, the Allied War Veterans Council, challenged the change in court on First Amendment grounds and won.
So the parade followed its time-honored path. It was welcome news for Southie traditionalists. But neighbors, clad in Celtics jerseys and green fleece, said they won’t forget the disruption that almost was.
“A lot of people are pretty upset with the mayor,” said Laura Purcelo, a 41-year-old Southie lifer who just moved to Dorchester. “A lot of people are saying, ‘He’s from Dorchester — why not shorten their parade? Why South Boston?’”
She was referring to the summertime Dorchester Day Parade — which, spanning more than 3 miles, is roughly as long as the South Boston celebration.
“It’s Southie who’s always the ones getting picked on and shorted,” said Cheryl Allen, 56. She was standing one street over from her lifetime home on Athens Street. “We’re given the raw hand all the time. It’s just time to stop.”
“I don’t know what it is with Mayor Walsh — being a Dorchester guy, if he’s got a problem with Southie,” said a scalley cap-wearing Mike Lee, 46, joined by 7-year-old Jordyn. “You’ve got to go with tradition. That’s what all this is about: tradition.”
The controversy never reached Orange County, New York — hometown to John Nolan, who traveled out to see the parade for the first time Sunday and watched the action from a Broadway stoop.
He and wife Mary McKenna Nolan said they came to visit. Their daughter recently moved to Quincy.
“So far, so good,” said John.
“Can’t get enough St. Patrick’s Day,” said Mary.
Nor did it register as strongly with Ryan and Marian Adami, 35 and 31, who recently moved to D Street from California. Their 2-year-old son Rhys wore tiny sunglasses tinted green.
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It did resonate in Fitchburg, though. That’s where 30-year-old Wayne Gardner lives, and where he picked up his eye-catching inflatable leprechaun hat before driving down to South Boston to take in his fifth or sixth parade.
“I totally like the full route,” Gardner said. “I’d rather not have them shorten it down. They’ve been going so long with it the way it is, I don’t think it should change.”