(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
The smell of meatloaf and mashed potatoes wafted out the of the First Parish Church in Dorchester on Thursday night, signaling the run-up to Dorchester Day, the neighborhood’s most prominent celebration.
With plates piled high, both the young and the old of Dorchester sat down for a night of entertainment as they raised money for the parade and the celebrations that surround it.
This year is especially important, as organizers and revelers celebrate the 50th consecutive year of the parade. It is scheduled for Sunday, June 2.
“It’s really the people on the parade route and the kids’ smiling faces that make us want to do this every year,” said Marty Hogan, the president of the parade committee.
The parade was started by the Dorchester Historical Society to honor the anniversary of the formation and settlement of Dorchester in 1630, according to the now-defunct Dorchester Atheneum newspaper.
Unfortunately, it fell to the wayside during World War II. The event was resurrected by returning vets and held its first parade after the war in 1963.
“When the war ended a bunch of guys got together and over a few beers decided to restart it,” said Joe Chaisson, one of the parade’s chief marshals.
Chaisson recalled how exciting the event was when he was a child.
“I remember working on it with my dad,” said Chaisson. “When I was a kid they use to let us ride around in the convertible.”
The parade holds a special place in the hearts of many residents from Savin Hill to Lower Mills.
“It’s all about the people that make up this neighborhood,” said City Councilor Frank Baker, who still remembers watching the parade as a youth from Ryan Playground. “Dorchester is a place where all different kinds of people live together and work together and it’s great to celebrate that.”
“For about three-miles you get to see everybody happy,” said Ed Geary, the parade clerk. “It’s the history of where we come from and everything we’ve done.”
There is a little competition mixed in, as residents vie for the title of Mayor of Dorchester.
Both Kelly Butts, an Adams Corner resident, and Binh Nguyen, a Lower Mills resident, have thrown their hats in the ring, hoping to take the title previously held by Katie Hurley and help raise much needed funds for the parade.
Competition aside, of the hundred or so residents in attendance Thursday is was about celebrating a little slice of Boston they call Dorchester.
To find out more about the parade, click here.
For pictures and video of last year’s parade, click here.