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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The light and the dark in the return of the St. Patty’s Day Parade

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Bianca Oppedisano
A St. Patrick’s Day Irish flag. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

After being canceled for the past two years due to concerns over the pandemic, the St. Patrick’s Day parade made its return to Boston on Sunday, March 20 at 1 p.m. The parade was predicted to reach pre-COVID-19 turn-out rates and did not disappoint, as hundreds of thousands lined the streets of Boston. 
The parade kicked off by the Broadway T station and progressed through West into East Broadway where it ended at Farragut Road. Earlier in the day, the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race was held around 11 a.m., starting by the Boys and Girls Club and ending around 12 p.m.
The scene was filled with energy as Boston natives and people from all over gathered along the roads to watch and cheer for the day’s festivities. The first day of spring was rung in with the celebration of Irish heritage. One Brookline resident spoke to the emotions surrounding the day, as he celebrated with his six-year-old son: “The world feels alive again.”
The parade showcased marching bands, celebrated veterans and blasted Irish music and songs with great resonance with the Boston Irish community, like “Sweet Caroline,” that brought the streets alive as white, orange and green confetti shot off through the streets. As the event is organized by the South Boston Allied War Veteran Council, an emphasis is put on the honoring of Boston’s first responders and military. 
Boston holds the highest concentration of Irish-American citizens in the top 50 most populated cities in the U.S., or around 23 percent, making the parade a cultural staple.
Mayor Michelle Wu turned out with her family to show her support.  In an interview with NECN news, Mayor Wu spoke to the significance of the St. Paddy’s Day parade: “It is beautiful to see so many families and friends and neighbors and visitors here celebrating our community [and] celebrating the proud heritage of the city.” 
Other Massachusetts government employees rallied to show their support, like Governor Charlie Baker and several members of city council. 
However, there was a dark cloud over the day, as it brought out a neo-Nazi group sporting a banner reading “Keep Boston Irish”; and as images began surfacing online of the group, there has been a surge of public outrage. The majority of the group were wearing dark green colors with black ski masks shielding their identities. They have been revealed to be members of the National Social Club, according to the Anti-Defamation League of New England. 
The Anti-Defamation League defines the National Social Club as a hate group consisting of members who “consider themselves soldiers fighting a war against a hostile, Jewish-controlled system that is deliberately plotting the extinction of the white race. Their goal is to form an underground network of white men who are willing to fight against their perceived enemies through localized direct actions.” 
Boston City officials have condemned the actions of the group, as well as the group itself, as officials emphasize that that is not what we as a city stand for.
Mayor Wu stresses this, saying: “There is no place for hate in Boston. It was incredibly disturbing to walk by that with my family and with so many families around. It’s unacceptable, and as we see the rise of these types of hate groups nationwide, Boston will continue to be a place where every single person is safe and welcome.”
Boston City Council President Ed Flynn reiterated Wu’s sentiment: “Their ideology is repugnant and contrary to an event that celebrates our proud immigrant history and is enjoyed by children, families and people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Their message is repulsive to the South Boston community and Gold Star Families who were at the parade to commend our veterans and honor their service to our union…We will continue to work closely with the Massachusetts State Police, the Boston Police Department and Human Rights Commission to ensure a thorough investigation is completed. As a city and Commonwealth, we must confront and stop hate, racism and discrimination everywhere it exists.”
City officials have preached their disgust and horror at the presence of the group as the city awaits next steps in investigating their unwelcome behavior and rhetoric. 

About the Contributors
Sean Liddy, News Writer
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator