Dot Day season will kick off this weekend

Dorchester Day is considered a high holiday in these parts — and for good reason. The first Sunday in June is the largest public celebration of Boston’s biggest and most diverse neighborhood and that day’s parade is an awesome party.

But the celebration of all-things Dorchester is not reserved for a single day in June. In fact, the month of March is really the launch of the Dorchester Day season, which extends right up until the last cookout winds down late in the day on June 4.

For decades, the neighborhood kicked off the Dot Day celebrations with a dinner inside the storied hall at First Parish Church. It’s a fitting venue, given the parish’s connection to the original Puritan settlers who came here in May 1630. The menu, up until two years ago, was a meatloaf dinner at the hall catered by Gerard’s Adams Corner. But Gerard’s has since closed, replaced by a new restaurant in the heart of Adams Corner— Landmark.

The current Dorchester Day Committee has taken the opportunity to rebrand the kickoff event as well.

Instead of a meatloaf dinner, it is inviting the public to attend a Pancake Breakfast on Sat., March 4, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at First Parish. The event will be a family-friendly one, with life-sized characters —think Batman, Cinderella, and Minnie Mouse— circulating among the tables to greet guests and take photos with our younger neighbors.

“The characters are always a great attraction and they can’t interact with the kids in the parade,” Kelly Walsh, the new president of the parade committee, told us last week. “The kids usually want a picture with them so we wanted to give them a chance to interact.”

The cost for the pancake breakfast is $15 per adult, $30 for a family of four, with each additional child $7. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

It’s a great idea— and it hopefully will help bring in a new cast of people who get excited about Dorchester Day. It takes a lot of effort to make that event a great one for the 100,000-plus people who attend or march.

The parade committee meets year-round to plan logistics for the parade and the run-up of events that precede it — including a Chief Marshal’s Banquet (set for Fri., June 2), and a $10,000 raffle on April 7, both at Florian Hall. These events, along with smaller parties generated by candidates running for the honorary Mayor of Dorchester title, help defray the substantial costs of putting the June parade on the streets. They also help build up excitement and pride in our old town-turned-Boston neighborhood.

Another March tradition is the annual Chili Cook-Off, which has grown in popularity to become one of the marquee events associated with Dorchester Day. A committee of civic leaders, led by Ashmont-Adams dynamo Pat O’Neill, has been organizing the chili competition for more than a decade now. This year’s cook-off is Sun., March 26, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the IBEW Local 103 Hall on Freeport Street.

The funds raised from admission ($20 per adult, $30 family up to 4, $5 for each extra child) to the cook-off will also be used to support the parade. For more information, contact Pat O’Neill at pattiashmont@gmail.com.

For further information on the Dorchester Day events, reach out to Kelly Walsh at kellywalsh@dotdayparade.com. The committee is also posting online updates and forms related to this year’s parade at dotdayparade.com.­