There is perhaps no city in the United States more Irish than Boston (although there are many in New York who will argue that point), and as there is no day more Irish than St. Patrick’s Day. Every year the city and people of Boston go out of their way to make it a memorable one. The parade, of course, is the centerpiece for the celebration, with its multitude of marching bands, martial and service organizations and other groups with strong roots to the Emerald Isle. For those planning to attend, here is a short guide to Boston’s 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
South Boston Parade
West Broadway and Dorchester Ave.
Boston, MA 02127
Date: Sunday, March 19 at 1 p.m.
While it would be nice to have a St. Patrick’s Day parade on the great man’s day, rather than disrupt traffic, school and business, Boston prudently prefers to let the Irish march on the Sunday nearest March 17. In 2017 that day is Sunday, March 19. The bands and other marchers assemble, quite appropriately for the day, at the James A. Kelly Bridge. The floats and other vehicles muster on Dorchester Avenue near West Fourth Street.
The parade steps off promptly at 1 p.m. at the corner of West Broadway and Dorchester Avenue. The marchers go southeast on West Broadway, turn east on East Broadway, and turn right on P Street, a block shy of the water. The parade proceeds for a short block south before turning right again and heading back west on East 4th Street. It makes a quick left on K Street, goes south for a block, and then a quick right onto East 5th Street. The parade then swings briefly down G Street through the south side of Thomas Park on Dorchester Heights and proceeds through South Boston on Telegraph Street and down Dorchester Street, before coming to a halt where that street meets the avenue of the same name. The route is four miles from start to finish, with plenty of places suitable for viewers to stand.
The City of Boston posts parking and traffic advisories several days before any major event, such as the Women’s March that took place on January 21 and, of course, the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Most neighborhoods require local permits for on street parking, and many streets will be closed to cars because of the parade and supporting events. Those who do brave the traffic by car will have to compete for spaces in parking lots and garages – which are few and far between and fill up early. Police and parade organizers strongly advise against driving into South Boston the day of the parade.
Better yet, proceed to the parking lots at the T Stations outside South Boston or in the suburbs. The T is the best, cheapest and most hassle-free way to get to the celebration, as the parade begins just outside the Red Line T Station on Broadway and ends at the Red Line’s Andrew T Station. From these crowds spread out along the route – often standing 10 or 12 deep. The MBTA has a web site to help those less familiar with the public transportation system plan their travel to and from the parade.
Veterans’ organizations have always played a major part in organizing and raising funds for the parade. The 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade will honor Boston’s veterans, with one such former serviceman, Dan Magoon, as its chief marshal. Magoon, a former paratrooper who served in Iraq and Afghanistan before joining the Boston Fire Department, is a native of South Boston and also executive director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes.
Over 100 groups are scheduled or expected to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston this year. The number of bagpipe, brass and marching bands is dizzying, as the local groups are joined by pipe bands from across the country and often from Ireland itself. Colonial fife and drum bands, Irish dance groups and organizations with decorated floats, such as that sponsored by the John Boyle O’Reilly Society of Ireland, fill out the lengthy roster. Among the annual favorites are the Men of St. Patrick’s Clown Group and the entertainer who styles himself the Elvis of Boston.
The St. Patrick’s Day parade winds its way through South Boston, the most Irish section of a city that styles itself the capital of Irish America. There are Irish pubs on almost every block in South Boston, but most cater to local, repeat customers. The best known and more upscale Irish restaurants and pubs in Boston are located in the city proper. Among the best are the Landsdowne Pub on Landsdowne Street across from Fenway Park, Ned Devine’s in Quincy Market, Crossroads Irish Pub on Beacon Street in Back Bay and J.J. Foley’s on East Berkeley in the South End.
There is no shortage of Irish-themed entertainment to be had in Boston on St. Patrick’s Day, but among the most sought-after tickets are for The Drop Kick Murphys, Boston’s own Celtic Punk Rock band. They will be appearing that weekend at Boston’s famed House of Blues.
Related: Boston’s Best Irish Pubs