2.2 min readBy Published On: December 9th, 2016Categories: Arts and Entertainment, Lifestyle3 Comments on South Boston on Parade

The Perfect Stocking Stuffer for the Parade Lover

Lifelong South Boston resident and retired Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Christian is an unabashed history buff who did not fade into retirement gently.

The Columbia Road resident, who has been retired for 10 years now, has always enjoyed writing and has published articles on the history of the Boston Fire Department, lectured at colleges and universities and is an active member of the South Boston Historical Society (SBHS).

As a result of his work with the SBHS, a fellow member approached him about writing a book on the history of the famous South Boston Evacuation Day/St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

“My good friend Marty Kane helped me begin the research for the book, and we started with the Boston Globe archives. We also referenced the Boston Public Library, the Boston Herald, South Boston Historical Society and the Castle Island Association. I went to Whacko Hurley for his insight and encyclopedic knowledge of the parade – he was very supportive and gave us access to his archives,” explains Christian.

“As we began to compile the timeline, we came across some really remarkable stories,” he added. “For example, in 1958 Fidel Castro was invited to participate! Of course that didn’t happen. And after WWI the US Government was not going to permit armed forces to walk in the parade if there were any pro-Irish rebellion displays on parade, and no active uniformed military could walk in the parade.”

Christian gives equal time to each decade of the parade. “There’s a big difference from what the parade was like when we were young and what it is like now,” he explained. “It has definitely evolved over time, but the theme has always been community, family and service.”

Some fun historical facts about the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade:

The route has changed many times (not just in 2015!). It once went down Ticknor Street, and for many years it started in Edward Everett Square.

Ed Sullivan was to be the Grand Marshal in 1956 but the parade was canceled twicedue to snow

George Washington’s great great nephew marched in the parade.

President John F. Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy last rode in the parade in 1958 (this is the book’s cover photo).

In 1965 popular radio talk show host Jerry Williams  got hit in the face with a Boston Creme pie on East 4th Street.

KNOCKO McCormack, brother to Congressman John McCormack, rode his horse into PJ Connolly’s tavern and started a movement to give away free beer on the parade route. (It was quickly squashed by the Irish Temperment Society.)

Book available at Southie’s Own and Wears + Wares! 


  1. Victor December 10, 2016 at 2:06 am - Reply

    How do you order a cooy?

  2. Bryan December 12, 2016 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Where can the book be purchased, I can not find it online/

    • Christine Fennelly December 13, 2016 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      Wears and Wares and Southie’s Own

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