When Charlestown native Bob O’Toole steps to the head of the Bunker Hill Day Parade as Chief Marshal this coming Sunday, June 14 at 12:30 p.m. in Hayes Square, it won’t be his first loop around the hill.
The retired Boston Police deputy superintendent has been involved with the Parade as a spectator in his childhood, as a member of the Majestic Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, as a Boston Police Officer patrolling the parade route – and even as a Bunker Hillbilly playing the washboard.
“I marched in the Parade for many years as a kid in the drum and bugle corps and I patrolled it as a police officer too,” he said. “My late mother grew up in Charlestown, Dorothy McCabe, and she and her two sisters would take us kids down to Dot Sheehan’s house on Main Street to watch it every year. When the people in the parade would come by – particularly the politicians – we had to look at my mom to find out if we liked them. You literally had to get clearance to clap. God forbid you clap for the wrong person and get that stern look from my mom…I was even with the Bunker Hillbillies for awhile. They sensed my great musical ability so they gave me the scratchboard with bells and cymbals to march with. Not a lot of demand for that instrument, but hey, if the Boston Symphony comes calling, those Parade marches have me ready.”