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Controversy fails to take fun out of parade

At the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston, marchers in the procession waved to onlookers decked out in green.
At the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston, marchers in the procession waved to onlookers decked out in green.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

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After weeks of tense negotiations between parade organizers and a gay rights group, the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration wound its way through South Boston beneath a bright sun that shone down on few hints of politics or controversy.

The crowds were massive and raucous, as in any year, and marchers appeared good-humored and proud — of their Irish heritage, military service, the close-knit neighborhood, and, in some cases, the inclusiveness of the new South Boston.

Marchers from the South Boston Association of Non-Profits, including members of the gay community, carried a rainbow of banners expressing the group’s values: “We stand for equality,” read one. “We stand for respect.” “We stand for inclusion.”

“People were very happy to see us,” said Michael Dowling, president of the association, which includes 70 South Boston nonprofits.

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