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St. Patrick's Day Parade Draws Crowd of Thousands

Gay and Lesbian Groups Barred From South Boston Event; March Alongside Cambridge Irish Brothers and Sisters

By R. ALAN Leo

Cambridge wore the green one day early this weekend as the city's St. Patrick's Day parade marched, rolled, danced and slithered down Massachusetts Avenue Saturday.

Several thousand people filled Harvard Square to watch the third annual Cambridge St. Patrick's Day parade.

Although Cambridge residents said this year's parade was the largest of the three, it did not attract very many Harvard students.

Jennifer A. Burney '99 said that she had not heard about the parade before hand, but she and her roommates were glad they caught the procession moving down Mass Ave.

"I liked the snake," said Burney's roommate Kate D. Nash '99, referring to the 40-foot, Chinese dragon-style serpent that a float bearing Saint Patrick chased down Mass. Ave.

While Saint Patrick's contingent was the largest, it was not the most publicized part of the parade.

For the last two years, since the nation's attention focused on Boston and Cambridge when the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council (SBAWVC) canceled their traditional St. Patrick's Day parade in order to prevent an Irish homosexual group from participating, the inclusion of gay groups has taken center stage.

The gay groups were welcomed into the first Cambridge St. Patrick's Day parade in 1994, which was the only major St. Patrick's Day parade in the Boston area that year.

Last year, the SBAWVC called their parade a "protest march," to circumvent a court order which forbade the exclusion of homosexual groups.

But last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the state decision, saying that the South Boston parade was a private event and organizers could choose who could and could not participate.

No gay clubs marched yesterday in South Boston's parade.

For the third year in a row, gay and lesbian groups were well-represented in Saturday's parade, which included displays from Cambridge's Lavender Alliance, the Lesbian and Gay League of Boston and the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Coalition.

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) student Perry R. Blanchor said that he thought the Cambridge parade organizers were right to allow gays to participate.

Lawrence W. Kam, also a GSAS student, agreed. However, he acknowledged that the South Boston parade organizers had won their fight.

"You can't argue with the Supreme Court," he said, adding, "Well you can, but its not very productive."

'If This Was Ireland'

Blanchor, the GSAS Henry Fellow from England, said that he was at the parade to learn the results of Saturday's rugby match between Ireland and England.

Blanchor said he noticed several differences between St. Patrick's Day in Ireland and the American celebration.

The half-dozen trucks representing beer companies from Guinness to Budweiser were similar to some Irish floats--with one key difference, according to Blanchor.

"If this was Ireland, they'd be handing out the beer on the streets," he said.

Blanchor was impressed by the float from the Burren Pub--the only group that played authentic Irish folk music, he said.

Kam admitted his St. Patrick's Day expertise was somewhat less than his friend's.

"I don't know anything about Ireland, but I loved 'Far and Away'" he said.

Local Business

Local merchants agreed that the parade was good for business.

"Business is booming," said Doina I. Contescu '89, who operates the My Dog kiosk in the Shops by Harvard Yard. Contescu said that business was up by as much as forty percent from usual Saturdays.

J.B. Jain, who operates the Watch Works kiosk across the arcade from My Dog, said that he had as many sales by 2:00 p.m. as he has all day on a usual Saturday.

Judy A. McGrail, a manager in the Harvard Coop, said that while she didn't notice a large increase in total sales, sales of Harvard insignia items were unusually high.

Au Bon Pain manager Gurung Sachen described business on Saturday as "excellent."

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