Revelers, peace parade: It’s time for one St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston

st. patrick's day boston peace parade veterans for peace
Members of Veterans for Peace get ready to march in the second parade in South Boston on St. Patrick’s Day 2013.
Credit: Michael Naughton/METRO

Apparently, two parades aren’t always better than one.

Two blocks off of West Broadway, as the traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade made its way up the street yesterday, Michelle Belliard stopped Webb Nichols and asked if she could take his picture as he held a large white Veterans for Peace flag. 

Belliard, 27, was leaving her spot after watching the traditional parade make its way through South Boston, but wanted the picture because her brother is a military veteran and she has other family members in the military.

“I do think they should be in the same parade,” she said. “They all do things to protect our country.”

The time to end the controversy surrounding the annual event is now, said some of the thousands of revelers who lined South Boston’s streets to watch the traditional parade.

For the past three years the group Veterans for Peace has held its own parade a mile behind the traditional parade put on by the Allied War Veterans Council. The peace parade calls itself inclusive and has members from various other issues groups march with it.

A 1995 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court awarded the private organization the right to ban gay rights groups from marching in its parade. Years later, Veterans for Peace took its exclusion to the federal court and lost as well, with judges citing the 1995 ruling. In response to the Veterans for Peace denial, organizers of the traditional parade have said that they respect all veterans, but that their parade is about a positive event and didn’t want to bring in negative issues.

Three years ago, the city gave a permit to Veterans for Peace to have its own parade – the St. Patrick’s Peace Parade – on a similar route in South Boston.

As the hundreds of peace parade marchers lined up on D Street, readying for their turn, Veterans for Peace committee member Al Johnson said the second parade is getting bigger each year.

“It’s certainly time for one parade,” said Johnson. “It’s about peace: the idea of having one parade for the community. Why should there be two? I don’t think that makes sense.”

Johnson said the city should take over the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade so that no group will be excluded.

Chelsea Starkey visited South Boston to watch the parade on Sunday. The 22-year-old said she knew about the peace parade and would stay and watch that as well because she felt the other groups should be included in one parade.

“I was surprised they didn’t,” she said. “Boston’s supposed to be liberal.”

Curbed consumption
Before Sunday’s parade, the city urged revelers to have a “family-friendly holiday” and to celebrate responsibly.
Police did not have an exact number of citations issued or arrests made as of press time. Last year 11 people were arrested and nearly 250 people were given citations, many for public drinking.
In the parking lot of the Burger King at the corner of D Street and West Broadway, a pool of liquid grew larger throughout the day as officers stationed there made people pour out their beer bottles or cans and brown paper bags. One woman was holding a large Jagermeister bottle in one hand and a Bud Light can in the other when police cited her.

Eat their dust
Veterans for Peace last week asked a federal judge to issue an emergency order to stop the city from rolling street sweepers before its parade, according to the Globe.
The organization said that the sweepers signal an end to the festivities and that the city favors the traditional parade.
The judge said from the bench that his ruling never meant for the sweepers to operate between the two parades, but said he wouldn’t change the wording of his order.
Despite that, a fleet of nearly a dozen street sweepers and city public works trucks rolled down West Broadway behind the traditional parade and before the peace parade.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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