When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I was born down on A Street,

Raised up on Main Street,

Southie's my hometown.

There's something about it,

Permit me to shout it...

Southie's my home town.

Welcome to Boston. The city is occupied. A boycott exists. A tyrant reigns. Law is by decree. People are oppressed. The spirit of freedom still lives. --sign on the South Boston Information Center

South Boston sparkled a vibrant green as fresh as the Emerald Isle itself yesterday as Boston's close-knit Irish community gathered together along a three-mile parade route to laugh and dance, drink and kiss, mock politicians, cheer local heroes and occasionally watch the marchers.

Not many towns see parades like the one the "Town of Southie" enjoyed under sunny skies and amid melting mounds of snow. The marchers themselves--the South Boston VFW Post, Boy Scouts, the parish Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Youth Organization, and even the Harvard University Band--were amateurish compared to those who appear in the parades of most large cities, but this show was no Pasadena spectacular intended for viewed from a cordoned-off curbside.

Everyone participated in Southie's St. Patrick's Day parade. The O'Tooles, Flahertys, Kirbys, Comiskeys, Dohertys, Donnellys and Dineens. It was strictly a family-affair; a big block party with all the warmth, neighborhood pride, good humor and openness that one can only find in this last-of-the-big-working-class-ethnic-neighborhoods.

--Stop forced busing, give a buck.

--St. Patrick is Alive and Well at Murphy's Bar.

--Better dumb than dead.   --Southie bars, hotbeds of discontent.

If not everyone watching the parade yesterday was Irish, it appeared that at least every cop on duty there was just a generation removed from carrying a shillelagh instead of a night-stick. But if the Town of Southie has any laws concerning the public consumption of alcohol, they were not enforced by those men in blue wearing green carnations. Many of the reddest noses were found in places like Tom English's Cottage and Chauncey's pub, establishments packed to the rafters with old, freckle-faced ale-lovers and smiling lassies and laddies ordering up Heinekens because they like the color of the bottle. Though the curbs were strewn with cans and bottles by the end of the party, the fierce neighborhood of the Southie community remained. Staggering sometimes, the kids emerged with big plastic garbage bags after the parade and cleaned up their streets.

--Happy St. Patrick's Day anti-bussers.