Video: A look at the Local 17 Sheet Metal Workers’ 'tin men' and their St. Patrick's Day Parade plans
(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2014)
They won’t be clad in green, but rather dressed in metal, and for anyone who has watched the St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day Parade in South Boston, they’ve probably seen the Local 17 Sheet Metal Workers and their unique costumes.
Every year volunteers from the Dorchester-based union, dress in 30-pound suits of metal and walk the parade route, throwing candy to kids and high-fiving spectators along the way.
“It’s about involvement and letting the neighbors and the community know who we are and what we do,” explained Jonathan Marks, president of Local 17. “We’re not just about installing HVAC, but we’re also trying to help out where ever we can.”
The six men who will be marching, in addition to those who will be supporting them and manning the union’s float, will be up bright and early Sunday, adding the finishing touches to their suits as they prepare for the long and sometimes cold trek through South Boston.
“The hardest part is putting on the suits,” said Michael Howard, 48, a six-year veteran of the parade. “You can’t really bend over too well in the suit, so it’s hard to hand out candy, but the kids love it.”
The union and its “tin men,” have been marching in the parade since at least 1998, according to Marks. Each suit is handmade and takes close to three days to complete.
“It’s great to be out there. Being of Irish heritage there’s a lot of pride for me and seeing the kids smile and throwing them beads is a great thing,” said Michael Burns, 36, who will march in the parade for his third time this year.
Although it’s an opportunity for the union and its members to introduce parade goers to what they do, Marks said it’s a pretty fun time as well.
“It’s a great feeling being out there and having people cheer for the ‘tin men,’” said Marks. “They may not know what we do, but it’s a great feeling.”
Anthony Franceschini, 41, who has marched in the parade the past two years, said it’s the only way to go.
“It’s a great time…the best way to be at the parade, is to be in the parade,” he said.