For generations of people with roots in Boston’s biggest and best neighborhood, this Sunday is the official start of summer. But it’s much more than just a seasonal marker. Dorchester Day is our day.
Modern-day Dorchester is a hard place for people to understand and explain. Even those of us who’ve lived here our whole lives have trouble putting our finger on it. We just know that we love it, warts and all. And this weekend is our chance to show it.
There are currently several reality TV shows in production set in South Boston, one of our daughter communities that regularly captures the imagination of screenwriters and producers. Is Dorchester just too big, too diverse, too hard to fit into a Hollywood pitch meeting? More likely, we are we just too complicated to squeeze into the narrow frame of a medium that’s only real purpose is to sell pimple cream and hair gel to teenagers. It’s a good thing too: Such caricatures as found on TV these days will do our friends and neighbors to the north no favors.
Dorchester’s long been skipped over in ways like this because it’s just easier, simpler that way. We get sliced and diced by mapmakers who don’t understand the place well enough to draw the lines right. Census counters lop off whole sections of Dot and assign their numbers to other city neighborhoods. The tourist guides leave us out entirely, with the obvious exception of the Kennedy Library— which is, of course, in Boston.
But, none of that matters on Dot Day. We’re the masters of our own destiny. We tell our story between the sidewalks and it’s a picture of an American community that has defied the odds and learned to live together. Not always in perfect peace and harmony— but still, it beats the alternative.
This year’s mood promises to be especially festive thanks in part to the energy and good humor of our new Mayor of Dorchester, Katie Hurley, who we interview this week. Hurley and her team of campaign helpers have injected a refreshing brand of hyjinks into Dot Day this year— using flamingoes to decorate friends’ yards as a way to help raise money and awareness about the parade. They’ve helped remind us that Dot Day is supposed to be fun.
The ranks of those who’ve chosen to move onto greener pastures is long and thick. They’re good people all and many of them will be back this weekend to help us celebrate.
Dorchester Day, though, really isn’t about long-dead men in Pilgrim hats or the neighborhood embedded some distant childhood memory. The parade that hits the street each year depicts a living, breathing neighborhood, always changing, always moving, never dull and never easy to explain.
Dorchester Day is our day. Thanks to all of those men and women who work throughout the year to help make it happen. We are in your debt.