Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Wednesday a new, shortened snow route for Sunday's St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston, saying the route will be modified to follow the previously established snow route starting at Broadway Station and ending at Farragut Road.
"Our number one priority will always be to keep our residents safe at all times," Walsh said. "The snow route has allowed for a safe and enjoyable celebration in other years when there has been heavy snow before the parade, and I commend the Public Works Department for working diligently to ensure that Broadway will be safe and accessible by Sunday."
But the organizers of the parade, the Allied War Veterans' Council of South Boston, are now urging Mayor Walsh to reconsider shortening the parade route, saying the decision was made without their agreement.
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In a statement, the AWVCSB said, "the traditional route that extends throughout South Boston is part of what makes the event special, and allows for the parade to pass by senior and public housing, and for Perkins American Legion Post members to host Gold Star Mothers."
The organizers went on to say that "the residents of South Boston overwhelmingly support this route, which has been a staple of the parade since it began in 1901, in conditions often far worse than what is anticipated Sunday."
Police Commissioner Wiliam Evans was in agreement with Mayor Walsh's decision, saying, "Yesterday's snowfall makes it more difficult to manage this weekend's parade in South Boston and it has created a situation where we do not feel that it is safe enough for children and families to watch the parade, especially on side streets, which are already difficult to navigate after a storm."
On Thursday, Boston city councilor and South Boston St. Patrick's Day Breakfast co-host Michael Flaherty told NBC10 Boston's Joy Lim Nakrin that he agreed with the decision to change the parade route, and pointed out that South Boston residents would have started to lose precious parking spots starting on Wednesday to secure and clear the normal route.
"Hosting the largest parade event in the city in the middle of March comes with the potential that we'll have northeast storm and blizzards," he said. "I think people are going to be OK with it, particularly knowing that they're not going to lose their parking space, but the route from Broadway to Farragut Road will be fully cleared -- the streets, the curbs -- will be fully safe for people."
The city said public works crews removed 1,800 cubic yards of snow overnight from Broadway, and will continue to focus on continued snow removal and opening sidewalks on Broadway over the next few nights to ensure safety and accessibility along the snow route.
The SBAWVC says while they understand that public safety is the top concern, they feel there was still the opportunity for the parade to proceed with the traditional route with that in mind.
"Today's decision is consistent with the failed 2016 attempt to permanently shorten the parade route that was defeated in court."
SBAWVC Commander Dave Falvey says he has worked hard to build ties with City Hall and is therefore extremely disappointed "that Mayor Walsh made a unilateral decision to proceed with a shortened route despite the SBAWVC's approved permit for the traditional route."
The St. Patrick's Day Parade is listed as the second largest in the country, drawing between 600,000 and 1 million people each year.
It typically kicks off around 12:30 p.m. and runs about two hours. Last year, the parade route also had to be shortened considerably due to another late season snowstorm.
Both the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the annual St. Patrick's Day Breakfast on Sunday morning are scheduled to be televised on necn and livestreamed on necn.com.