Election year ups dose of parade politics
â€œThe Dorchester Day Parade is not about the politicians,â€ said Kevin McCrea, a mayoral candidate, as he walked along Dorchester Ave. on Sunday, waving and shaking hands.
Behind him a woman carrying a banner for Dorchesterâ€™s First Baptist Church begged to disagree.
â€œYes it is!â€ she yelled.
The numbers appear to be on her side. All four mayoral candidates â€“ current Mayor Thomas Menino, Councillors At-Large Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon, and McCrea â€“ turned out for the parade, as did most of the State Houseâ€™s Dorchester delegation and many of the 15 people angling for an at-large seat on the City Council.
â€œItâ€™s a good long walk,â€ Gov. Deval Patrick, wearing sneakers, told a huddle of reporters before the parade got underway. â€œDorchesterâ€™s a really important community in Boston, and to me, politically, as well. A lot of friends along the route and a lot of friends in the parade.â€
Those friends appear to include Menino, who marched with Patrick in the â€œChief Marshalâ€™s Division,â€ along with City Councillor Maureen Feeney and state Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry.
Meninoâ€™s presence dominated the 3.2-mile parade route, with signs in store shops and out on lawns along the parade route. Even the 2009 Mayor of Dorchester, Steven Bickerton Jr., had a Menino sign on his car, as he drove down the road. Volunteers carrying Feeneyâ€™s banner also had stickers supporting Menino.
Walking behind City Councilor at-Large Steven Murphy and a black car bearing the name of the late Councillor, Albert â€œDapperâ€ Oâ€™Neil, Flaherty deployed a pick-up truck plastered with â€œFlaherty Mayor â€™09â€ signs. Volunteers handed out Flahertyâ€™s new tactic: comparing Menino to an old cassette player and Flahertyâ€™s candidacy to an iPod. Mounted on top of the truck were loudspeakers proclaiming his candidacy, while behind it walked several women in Vietnamese garb. Also marching with Flaherty was Edward Kelly, the head of the Boston Firefighters Union, which has been warring with the Menino administration over contracts and drug testing.
Yoon relied on â€œpeople power,â€ as one aide put it, with campaign volunteers walking with him. When asked about being positioned behind both Menino and Flaherty, Yoon quipped, â€œThe iPod mini, thatâ€™s what we are.â€ (Yoon didnâ€™t stop after the parade ended at Columbia Rd. He and his wife were spotted at the JFK/UMass MBTA station, attempting to convince some young children to text his campaign.)
Parade watchers said this yearâ€™s turnout appeared better than most, which coincides with municipal elections this fall.
â€œItâ€™s good to see the politicians out here touching base with the public,â€ said Kevin Oâ€™Connor of St. Markâ€™s Parish.
Asked which mayoral candidateâ€™s entourage impressed him, Oâ€™Connor said Flahertyâ€™s. Sitting next to him, a young Mackenzy Jakaus piped up: â€œWhichever one had candy,â€ she said.