Everywhere the Town turned this year, it seemed there was a roadblock for commemorating the Battle of Bunker Hill.
First, the bad news came in April about not having the time-honored in-person Parade and Charlestown Pride Week events.
Then a Car Parade was born in early May – keeping the tradition alive in any way possible.
Then City Hall nixed that idea a few weeks later, suggesting too many people would congregate.
It seemed that the Battle of Bunker Hill was going to be silenced in 2020.
But when Townies are barred from celebrating a time-honored, national sacred moment of rebellion, what does that lead to?
Rebellion, of course.
Not that there was any chicanery, but a healthy group of Charlestown residents and friends put together an unofficial and unadvertised Car-ade through the streets on Sunday, June 14 – which would have been this year’s Battle of Bunker Hill Day Parade. While Parade organizers like Arthur Hurley were not involved in the planning or coordination of the event, they did show up to support the effort.
The effort will go down as keeping the streak of Bunker Hill Parades intact – as there hadn’t been one cancelled in many, many years.
Resident Sean Boyle – along with Smokey Cain and others – put together the plan and were able to raise some substantial money as well to put towards charity.
If you know me, you know I love Parade Day,” wrote Boyle. “I was really sad, but understood why the 2020 Bunker Hill Day Parade was cancelled. I came up with this idea as a safe way to still honor an ongoing tradition that commemorates the first major battle of the American Revolution; to still have Charlestown pride despite us being forced to not celebrate. Throughout this whole pandemic, Car Parades have been a way of still celebrating birthdays, thanking someone, etc.
“Boston City Hall ‘nixed’ the idea and deemed it as unsafe for our community for fear that people would congregate and not practice social distancing,” he continued. “They advised the Parade Committee not to do it.”
Boyle and others said they were going to just do a few cars driving around decorated, but after protests on Boston Common were allowed, he said it was time to stage the Town’s own peaceful protest in honor of the rebellion on Bunker Hill.
“So here’s my peaceful protest: There is nothing ‘unlawful’ about driving through the town I grew up in, celebrating something I believe in, and honoring the people that died and continue to sacrifice their lives to give this country freedom,” he wrote. “There is nothing ‘unsafe’ about slowly driving in your car, and waving and beeping at people in their houses. Car Parades have been happening for the past two months.”
So, cars showed up next to the Mystic Channel a/k/a Montego Bay last Sunday, and they proceeded to drive along the route and honk at the many people who had decorated their homes and some who sat outside to mark the occasion.
It was a moment that will act to preserve the legacy of the Battle, and to keep the Parade streak intact – even if it stands as unauthorized and maybe with an asterisk next to it.