Here is How Quincy’s St. Patrick’s Parade Got its Start
It was a morning in 1986 when I was working at 99Q Radio with Dennis Oliver. He was just finishing up his morning show and I was beginning my mid-day stint (after working the morning show on WTAD earlier that morning). It was about a week before St. Patrick’s Day and I went up to D.O. and said we need to have a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Quincy.
He looked at me and grinned and thought I was nuts. I told him I was serious, and that we were the perfect duo to pull it off. It was too late to organize anything that year, so I came up with the idea of holding “The World’s Smallest St. Patrick’s Day Parade.” Just the two of us. The more we discussed it, the more D.O. warmed up to the idea. Just the two of us walking down the street with the idea of getting into the Guinness Book of World Records for the smallest St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I even sent in the paperwork to apply for the record but never heard anything back, so I guess there was a one man parade somewhere.
On St. Patrick’s Day 31 years ago, the two of us strolled down the street from 5th to 12th (just the opposite of the way the parade goes now). During our walk we were stopped by the Quincy Police and asked just what we were doing. When we responded we were walking in the parade the officer gave us one of those looks of “great, two nut cakes walking in the street.” I guess he wasn't Irish. We were informed that we needed a permit to hold a parade in the street, even with two people. So around 7th Street we were forced to move to the sidewalk to complete the route.
People, after hearing what we did, wanted to walk with us next year and the rest is history. From two guys walking in 1986 to nearly 100 entries again this year, the St. Patrick’s Parade has blossomed way beyond anything either one of would have ever expected.
We call it the parade to “usher in Spring.” It gets people to venture outside for the first time after winter, but most of all, it brings smiles to people in the parade and the people watching it. It is truly a people’s parade with families walking together, people walking their dogs, kids riding their bikes and women and men acting like kids again in the almost spring-like fresh air.
For the Irish people in the parade, of which I am one, it has a little more significance than for those who are not Irish. But during the St. Patrick's Parade, everybody will be Irish and that’s a good thing. So if we managed to bring a few smiles to your face over that past 31 years it was all worth it.
This year will mark the 5th year that we will hold the parade without the blessing of my good friend Tommy Murphy from Ireland. Tommy passed away in 2012 and he will be missed for sure. Every year he would call me after the parade and ask how it went. That call won’t come again this year, but I know he’ll be watching us tomorrow. Here’s to you my friend.
D.O. and I are no longer in our 20′s and 30′s anymore and one of these days we won’t be here. When that day comes, I truly hope that someone will step up and continue what is now a Quincy tradition.
I leave you with one of my favorite Irish blessings. May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be at your back. May the sunshine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, the good Lord willing, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
God bless us all. Let’s have a safe and fun St. Patrick’s Parade in 2017! This year's parade begins at 11 a.m. tomorrow. Oh, by the way, Dennis Oliver WILL be in the parade!