First, the bad news, from the good people – volunteers, all – who run the Dorchester Day Parade Committee. Last Thursday, they posted this message on their Facebook page:
“We are hope you are all doing well. We know that the past year has been a difficult one for everyone due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. The Dorchester Day Parade Committee has decided to cancel the Dorchester Day Parade that was scheduled for June 6, 2021. We wish that we could all gather to celebrate Dorchester. At this time, the health and safety of our community members, participants, and neighbors are extremely important to us. We hope that we will be able to gather again in the near future to celebrate our community and each other.”
It was not unexpected. The Pride parade, typically held the Sunday after Dot Day, was cancelled more than a month ago. Boston Calling, the early summer music festival once staged at City Hall and, more recently, at Harvard, is off. There are no concerts or festivals on the books yet for Fenway or Gillette. And, of course, the traditional St. Patrick’s/Evacuation Day Parade in South Boston— which would have been held this coming Sunday— is not happening.
For all that, skipping Dot Day for the second consecutive year stings a little bit. Last year, the decision was a no-brainer, with the pandemic at full tilt. The spring of 2020 had brought widespread misery and fear. The obituary pages swelled with familiar faces from our own ranks. And our seniors were sealed away in their apartment buildings, cut off from nearly all interactions.
And, absent any sane or credible leadership from the White House, there was little confidence in what the rest of the year might bring.
This year is a different story. As of this writing, about one quarter of the city’s population has been at least partly vaccinated. Our elders— the most vulnerable— are emerging from their dreary isolation. Vacations are being booked. Cape rentals are through the roof. The golf clubs and tennis rackets are coming out of the sheds.
And increasingly, our kids are back in the classrooms and— at long last— our beleaguered teachers are getting life-saving shots.
By early April, every adult in Massachusetts who wants to get vaccinated should be able, at the least, to get an appointment for the medication. President Biden has promised that there’ll be sufficient supply of vaccines to schedule every American by May 1.
And yet, after all of the sacrifice of the last 12 months, we are left to serve up the annual celebration of Boston’s biggest and best neighborhood as a final offering to the marauding Covid virus. Insult, join injury.
In fairness, Dot Day doesn’t materialize in Lower Mills out of the early June ether. There’s a labor of many months involved by the aforementioned volunteers who typically meet year-round to make it a success.
They have to raise money, which hasn’t happened over the last year. There are permits to be gotten, bands to be booked, and applications to be processed. It’s a lot of work for no reward other than the joy these men and women derive from pulling off the parade itself, which has become a true representation of this community’s diversity and dynamism.
If the next parade must be pushed to June 5, 2022, let’s prioritize making that day an absolute blow-out bacchanalia for the ages. In the meantime, this Dot Day doesn’t have to be like last year’s non-event. We can— and we will— celebrate responsibly in backyard barbeques and block parties.
But, let us resolve to set aside some of the beer money to make a donation to the parade committee. They’re going to need a full coffer to make Dot Day ’22 something extra special.
- Bill Forry