Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade returns after COVID hiatus

March 20, 2022 GMT
Members of the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums march during the St. Patrick's Day parade, Sunday, March 20, 2022, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. The traditional parade was held Sunday in the neighborhood for the first time since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Members of the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums march during the St. Patrick's Day parade, Sunday, March 20, 2022, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. The traditional parade was held Sunday in the neighborhood for the first time since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Members of the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums march during the St. Patrick's Day parade, Sunday, March 20, 2022, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. The traditional parade was held Sunday in the neighborhood for the first time since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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Members of the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums march during the St. Patrick's Day parade, Sunday, March 20, 2022, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. The traditional parade was held Sunday in the neighborhood for the first time since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
1 of 12
Members of the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums march during the St. Patrick's Day parade, Sunday, March 20, 2022, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. The traditional parade was held Sunday in the neighborhood for the first time since the start of the pandemic. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

BOSTON (AP) — Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade returned Saturday after a two-year hiatus, an event Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called a well-earned reward after the anxiety, trauma and tragedy caused by the pandemic.

The procession stepped off in South Boston Saturday afternoon for the first time since the pandemic began. Boisterous crowds lined the sidewalks, smiling, wearing green and cheering for the first responders who kicked off the celebration. Fire trucks, ambulances and police vehicles streamed down the route, sirens blaring.

“There are smiles from ear to ear everywhere. I think people are really happy that this is back,” Baker said during the NECN broadcast of the event.

Baker said it’s important to recognize and appreciate what people have gone through during the pandemic. The St. Patrick’s Day parade on a 60 degree day is a “big reward that was well-earned,” he added.

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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said it was beautiful to see so many families, friends, neighbors and visitors gathered to celebrate the community and its heritage. The chief marshal was Susan McDonough, a South Boston native and veteran who was supposed to be the chief marshal in 2020.

In 2020, St. Patrick’s Day parades across the country were among the first major events cancelled as the virus hit the United States. Many returned this year, in a sign of growing hope that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be over.

Boston is home to one of the country’s largest Irish enclaves. Parade organizers decided during the omicron surge to march, but shorten the route, excluding Dorchester Heights.

The parade is hosted by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council. David Falvey, council commander, told The Boston Globe that the focus for this year was to bring the parade back in some form, even if not the full route, after two very long years away.