South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade steps off without Mayor Walsh

boston south boston st. patrick's day parade
The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade marched on without Mayor Marty Walsh.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki, Metro

While it looked like there may have been a deal to allow a statewide LGBT advocacy group to march in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, the controversy instead continued. 

Mayor Marty Walsh said on Sunday he was “disappointed” that he would not be marching in the South Boston parade because of a lack of an agreement between MassEquality and the Allied War Veterans Council.

“I’m disappointed that this year, I will be unable to participate in the parade. As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city. Unfortunately, this year, the parties were not able to come to an understanding that would have made that possible,” Walsh said in a statement officially announcing his final decision not to march.

Walsh had tried to broker a deal between the Allied War Veterans and MassEquality, but it failed to materialize. MassEquality said it wouldn’t march in the parade if its members couldn’t do so openly.

Philip Wuschke Jr., a parade organizer, previously said that the parade has been inclusive and does include gay participants. A “diversity float” put together by South Boston residents, some of whom are gay, was allowed to participate in Sunday’s parade and members were allowed to march wearing business attire and scarfs with equal signs if they wanted, according to the Globe.

A 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed the private parade to deny groups from participating.

The South Boston parade attracts thousands of people to the city.

First time parade-goers from across the country questioned why LGBT groups weren’t allowed to participate.

Sharon Cunca and Debbie Celani tried to keep warm in their camping chairs they set up at the corner of West Broadway and B Street. They took a 6:30 a.m. bus from Rhode Island to come up to see their first South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade.

“I think you should be inclusive,” Cunca said.

Celani added: “No one should judge anyone else.”

Husband and wife Bobby and Sarah Albert traveled to Boston from Washington to see the parade and a couple of Dropkick Murphys concerts.

Sarah Albert, wearing a green feathered headband, said she did some research on the parade before the couple headed to Boston and found online articles about the controversy.

“It seems silly to turn people away in that regard,” she said.

Her husband echoed her sentiments.

“I think in the long run it will hurt the parade if they don’t allow it … why wouldn’t you want more people to join the parade,” he said.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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