Boston politicians may love sports parades even more than they hate weed
Depending on what you’re looking for in a spectacular, this month’s New England Patriots victory parade through Downtown Boston had it all—violent brawls, more than a dozen arrests, massive MBTA commuter delays, and fans relieving “‘themselves into bottles’ and leaving ‘foul puddles’ of piss on train floors.”
If you said anything about it online, you were likely to be trolled relentlessly by dedicated Pats fans. As if a love for football has anything to do with vandalism. But with the pee-soaked events now in hindsight, I thought it might be time to add perspective.
Despite Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s pleadings for fans to act responsibly, and to not throw beers at duck boats on the parade route, since players with their children were along for the ride, that happened after all. Gronk and others caught and dodged aluminum and even wound up bloody, all thanks to overzealous zeros tossing brews at their heroes. Thankfully no kids were harmed, though NECN reported, “Tom Brady’s daughter almost hit by can during Patriots Super Bowl Parade.”
Walsh, a massive Pats fan, didn’t seem to notice or mind the mayhem, tweeting, “Today was an amazing day for the @CityOfBoston. Congratulations to the New England @Patriots on becoming the #SuperBowl champions (again)! 1.5 million people showed that #WereStillHere today- the largest parade crowd in recent memory! – MJW.” Others were less enthusiastic in their replies to hizzoner, their sentiments including:
- Please rethink having these events on school / work days. #priorities
- It’s deeply disappointing that you’re going to pretend this was a huge success and not even acknowledge that it completely crippled mass transit on a weekday. These numbers prove parades should be on weekends.
- On a weekend the T could run a regular weekday service and accommodate parade-goers without the already-at-capacity commuter passenger load it already struggles with on weekdays.
- I’d not say greatest fans to the city of Boston- it was a siege of mostly obnoxious suburban kids trashing up the T and streets. Not sure why that is okay? Pretty rude
- Yeah, and thanks to the ineptitude of the @MBTA_CR my 2 hour commute became 4!
One woman commented, “Inebriated men yelled at me on my commute home on the #MBTA, wearing jerseys. Made to feel unsafe. Hardly a celebration.” Naturally, Walsh offered no response to any of them, and accepted none of the responsibility for events that unfolded.
“We told people, ‘No drinking in the streets.’” Walsh said in an attempt to defend himself on the WGBH show Boston Public Radio. A lot of good it did.
As for other notable responses, Boston City Councilors Ed Flynn and Josh Zakim didn’t make any noise about rowdy Pats fans, most of whom came in from out of town and pose no political threat. Like Walsh, Zakim praised the parade on social media, which is interesting since both he and Flynn, along with Mayor Walsh, hammered the much tamer MassCann/NORML Boston Freedom Rally last September. As Zakim and Flynn wrote in a request for a public hearing last year, “Hempfest is an event that regularly draws complaints from surrounding neighbors and visitors to the area.” In his condemnation, Walsh said the Freedom Rally left an “appalling mess” on Boston Common.
As Flynn claimed to fear the impact on “quality of life issues” for Beacon Hill residents, it’s worth noting that unlike the beloved Patriots, Freedom Rally organizers pay for cleanup, park rangers, port-a-potties, and security in order to receive their annual permit. Furthermore, unlike sports parades, the cannabis-focused event has no history of violence or mass public drinking. It’s also on a weekend, and has never caused an MBTA overload like this Pats parade.
As Walsh tells it, football players leave town soon after the season is over, and some might not attend if the parade was held on the following weekend. For the mayor, not inconveniencing players and Bob Kraft is more important than protecting commuters and citizens.
There is always the argument that parades like this are a blessing for local businesses. And of course that’s true in many cases. But not all—in something of a Patriots parade PR blunder, the city fined some restaurants for opening up patios without a permit. Walsh seemed to think that restaurants should have foreseen the 60-degree temperatures and asked for a single-day permit with just one day of notice ahead of time. Because it’s a known fact the Boston acts quickly when issuing permits.
“No sympathy for that [the restaurants]?” WGBH host Jim Braude asked Walsh.
“No.” Adding, “To complain about it publicly, I don’t understand that,” the mayor replied.
The New England Patriots press office did not return a request for comment.
Mike Crawford is the host and founder of Disrupt Boston’s The Young Jurks video show and publisher of the Midnight Mass newsletter. Get your tickets now for the Young Jurks 5th Anniversary Gala and Awards Show being held on Sat 4.27 at Down the Road Beer Co. in Everett.