‘Marty’ marches for the home folks

Lauren Dezenski, Reporter Staff
Jun. 5, 2014

For Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Dorchester Day 2014 was a homecoming of sorts. For many who voted last fall for the candidate who grew up just off Dot Ave., Sunday’s parade was their first chance to see, and, for some, to hug their neighbor the mayor as he marched along the 3.2 miles between Lower Mills and Columbia Road. Shouts of “Hey, Marty!” filled the air at nearly every block.

The mayor crisscrossed the avenue as he made his way north at the front of the parade, trailed by various city councillors (he outlasted nearly all of them). He stopped countless times to run over to people lining both sides of the avenue, shaking hands, hugging, and, of course, having his picture taken with them. Those he didn’t stop to greet came out to him, security be damned.

“I’ve done this 16 times as a state rep, and of course on the campaign trail, so obviously I know a lot of people along the route,” said Walsh. He certainly did, at one point telling a young man to say hello to his mother for him. Earlier, Walsh asked an older woman how she was feeling. “You look great,” he replied. “Just do as the doctor says.”

For the candidates in the governor’s race marching behind the mayor, the day was more about courting than celebrating. “This is a community full of activists. You don’t have to look anywhere other than Dorchester,” said State Treasurer Steve Grossman, the lone Democratic candidate to march in the parade. “And an army of activists is what it’s going to take to win in November,” he added.

Evan Falchuck and Jeff McCormick, two independent candidates for governor, were in the procession, although Falchuck had to leave the parade early because of his daughters’ dance recital, a campaign volunteer said. Nonetheless, his supporters marched on.

Republican Charlie Baker, dressed in a Dorchester Strong tee shirt, sweated as he marched along, careful to shake hands with each group of parade-goers. “It’s a spirited community that takes politics seriously,” Baker said, explaining why he felt it was important to campaign in the neighborhood. “Did I mention they take their politics seriously?”

In an interview with the press as he marched, Walsh said that he was not going to weigh in during the primary stage of the governor’s race, but added that he expected Baker to “do okay in certain parts of Dorchester. He’s been working hard, I’ll tell you that. The neighborhood is generally a Democratic stronghold, but there’s pockets where he’ll do well.”

This was the first Dot Day parade for a couple of newly elected state legislators who had grown up watching the parade. “For me, today’s all about increasing voter participation,” said state Rep. Evandro Carvalho as he worked his way up the avenue. State Rep. Dan Hunt said this parade was special for him: He was marching for the first time as an elected official along with the mayor from Dorchester. And he wasn’t going to let a lack of challenger in November get in the way of a good parade. “I’m just trying to shake every hand here like I know Marty would,” he said.