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‘I wanted to put my fist through the TV.’ Not everyone in South Boston likes Ed Flynn’s take on St. Patrick’s Day parade.

A reveler carried a borg, an acronym for “black out rage gallon,” during the parade.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Numerous complaints about public debauchery, littering, and destruction of property during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston have ignited a debate about the future of the long-running event, with City Councilor Ed Flynn calling for it to be relocated from his neighborhood if revelers don’t straighten up.

The parade, organized by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, has been held in the neighborhood for more than 100 years. But while the parade has long been known for large crowds, public drinking, and rowdiness, some South Boston residents say the crowds this year were far more out of control and created an environment that is no longer safe or family friendly.


Residents filed a flood of 311 complaints, many requesting cleanup of litter and debris, and urine left by the parade-goers, or reporting fights and excessive public drinking. One 311 complaint included photos of young adult attendees ripping the street signs for D street and Bolton out of the ground. Another said people at the parade “terrorized our neighborhood. . . . We deserve to have a safe place to live.”

On social media and through text messages, some residents shared photos and videos of visibly drunk people and fights during the event, and expressed concern it has evolved into a “giant frat party” and outgrown the neighborhood’s ability to manage it.

The reports prompted Flynn, who represents the neighborhood, to call for “major changes,” including relocating the parade from South Boston “indefinitely” unless people are able to respect the neighborhood and its residents. On Tuesday, he said he would be meeting with the parade organizers and elected officials to discuss possible solutions.

Randy J. Greeley, president of the parade organizer, declined to comment.

State Senator Nick Collins, who represents South Boston, does not support moving the parade to downtown, but emphasized the need for an “enhanced city-state level security plan going forward.”


“We need to prioritize the experience of law abiding citizens coming to celebrate what is annually the largest public event in Boston and not allow disorderly and criminal behavior of visiting spectators to disgrace a tradition that’s been around for 124 years,” Collins said in a statement.

At an unrelated event Wednesday, Mayor Michelle Wu said that ultimately the location of the parade is up to its organizers, and the route they propose in their application to the city.

“If the consensus is that the organizers in the neighborhood don’t want to do it anymore, or want to do it somewhere else, then the city is always happy to respond to those applications as they come in,” Wu said. “ . . . Of course, it needs to be mindful of the safety and health and just general quality of life of our neighbors who live in the city as well.”

Some business owners in the neighborhood said that drunk attendees and rowdiness are typical for the event, and the influx of parade-goers is good for business.

Billy Kyriazis, owner of Land of Pizza on West Broadway, said his store had “200 percent” more business than on a regular Sunday.

Having worked at the pizza shop since 1989, he knows how to handle intoxicated patrons looking for a slice. And although it was a large crowd this year, Kyriazis said he thinks things were worse in the ‘90s It would be a mistake to relocate the parade, he said.


“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said. “This has been happening for years and years.”

But Kyriazis said there should be more public restrooms and echoed complaints from other residents and business owners who said cleanup was subpar this year.

In past years, Kyriazis said, he would see city sweepers come through West Broadway right after the parade. But this year, he did not see any at all. On the day after the parade, Kyriazis said, “it still looked horrible.” He picked up 12 bags’ worth of trash on the sidewalk outside his pizza shop.

“We can’t have this,” Kyriazis said.

A Boston Public Works spokesperson did not say whether the delays some residents experienced in the cleanup were a departure from years past.

“Understanding the monumental task associated with cleaning a parade route attended by hundreds of thousands of individuals, the Public Works Highway Division dedicated more personnel and pieces of cleaning equipment than previous years,” said a Boston Public Works spokesperson in a statement.

West Broadway residents Marlyn and Jorge Baez said they generally find the parade a lot of fun. But the couple, who’ve lived in their apartment for five years, said they have to pick up confetti, trash, bottles, and cans themselves.

Jorge Baez said this year’s parade got more “out of control” than usual, and he observed several parade-goers urinating behind the bushes in front of the couple’s unit. While they let a few people use their restroom, they eventually had to stop opening their door.


“When you’re doing this type of event, with so many people coming in, I think you have to do a better job getting a bathroom for them to use and getting better coordination,” he said.

Most Southie residents who spoke Wednesday afternoon disagreed with Flynn’s calls to move the parade — some strongly so.

“I wanted to put my fist through the TV,” said resident Mike Echo, recalling his reaction when he saw coverage of Flynn’s comments.

“Everybody in South Boston loves it,” Echo said. “It’s all we have here.”

“It makes no sense to move it,” said chef and restaurateur Tiffani Faison, as she swept the steps of her brownstone on East Broadway Street. “It’s always been here. It should be here.” Faison said other neighbors she’s talked to are just “snickering at each other” over Flynn’s remarks.

“It’s so ridiculous, no one’s really up in arms,” said Faison, who moved to the area last year. “It sounds like a dad telling us all to go to our rooms. It’s not gonna work, respectfully.”

This is not the first time city officials have floated changes to the parade. In 2016, then-mayor Martin J. Walsh tried to shorten the parade route for safety reasons, but a federal judge ruled those efforts violated the First Amendment rights of the organizers, and ordered the city to allow the event to proceed along its typical route in South Boston.


William B. Evans, the police commissioner at the time, testified in court that he was increasingly concerned about the changing “dynamic” of the event, as more and more “unruly out-of-towners” crowded the neighborhood’s streets.

Ultimately, the judge found that restricting alcohol sales in the area and other public safety measures would be more appropriate to address the city’s concerns than making changes to the parade’s length.

Niki Griswold can be reached at niki.griswold@globe.com. Follow her @nikigriswold. Madeline Khaw can be reached at maddie.khaw@globe.com. Follow her @maddiekhaw.