Photo Courtesy of David R. Burke
The annual parade, first started in 1968, was cancelled in 2011 when organizers couldn't raise the necessary funds. This year, a 25 member committee headed by Police Detective Tom Cuddy, raised the funds needed to hire bands and organize the event, according to the Lawrence Eagle Tribune.
Bill Sullivan, head of the AOH Division 8 in Lawrence, expressed gratitude that the parade was returning to Lawrence and said members of his organization,along with the Ladies AOH Lawrence chapter, were marching. The AOH and the Irish Foundation of Lawrence organize an Irish Heritage Month each year with cultural activities throughout March.
Lawrence has a proud Irish heritage dating back to the founding of the city in the 1840s, when Irish immigrants fleeing Ireland's famine arrived in the city to work in the mills. Lawrence is proudly referred to as an Immigrant City because of the successive waves of new immigrant groups that continue to replenish the city.
The late David R. Burke of Lawrence was one of the key organizers when the parade first started, and by 1974 the crowds had grown to over 200,000 people and 10,000 marchers, according to a story in the Boston Globe titled, "It was a Great Day for the Irish in Lawrence." There were 32 bands, 23 floats and 30 marching delegations, the Globe wrote.
This year's grand marshal is Edward Curran, a U.S. Army veteran who earned a Silver Medal and Gallantry Cross in Vietnam. Curran also led efforts to construct a Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Lawrence.
“This whole parade is showcasing Lawrence to people past, present and future. Much like the Italian feast and Hispanic Week, it brings people to Lawrence and is another way to showcase the city in a positive way,” Cuddy told the Eagle Tribune.
Here is a schedule of St. Patrick's Day parades across Massachusetts in March 2014, and other cultural events in March, issued by Boston Irish Tourism Association.
Find year round details about Irish cultural activities in Massachusetts and New England by visiting IrishMassachusetts.com.