By Seth Daniel
Parade organizers have confirmed this week that the Bunker Hill Parade route will be shortened and will make some long-overdue changes from the traditional route, cutting out the Union Street jog, the Bartlett Street detour and the time-honored pause for a beer at Old Sully’s.
The Battle of Bunker Hill Parade Committee has considered the changes before, but pulled back due to some concerns from those on the old and new route. However, this year they said they are having trouble getting bands and organizations to return as marchers and entries in the Parade because it is viewed as too long, especially on hot June days.
Additionally, many of the twists and turns through the Main Street and Bartlett Street areas featured small crowds or no one at all.
A meeting at City Hall on Monday confirmed the changes, and the Committee said they will be implemented this year.
“The parade committee has made this long overdue change because the parade route is too long for the marchers and there are long stretches of the route that have few if anyone watching the parade,” read a letter from the Battle of Bunker Hill Parade Committee, chaired by Arthur Hurley.
The route is much simpler and shorter than in the past, said Chief Marshal Robert Beckwith.
“The route is definitely changed,” said Beckwith. “The Parade will be shortened significantly because they’re trying to get bands in the Parade and the bands were telling us the Parade was too long. Many times it’s a very hot day and it’s a very hilly route and it’s also a very tough route.”
The beginning of the Parade will go off without any changes, starting in Hays Square and proceeding all the way up and down Bunker Hill Street, taking a left on Main Street near the Neck. The Parade will proceed all the way down Main Street, and the big change comes when it takes a left on Green Street in Thompson Square.
There, it will pass by the Boys & Girls Club, First Church in Charlestown, Memorial Hall and take a right on High Street. It will travel for a block or so to the Monument, where the official reviewing stand will be placed on the stairs directly in front of the Monument.
The Parade will continue onto Winthrop Street and it will end at the Training Field, corner of Winthrop and Common Streets.
Gone from the route is the foray into the neighborhood abutting City Square, which included Union Street, Washington Street, Harvard Street, Pleasant Street, Warren Street and Monument Avenue.
Previously, instead of turning on Green Street to go up the Hill, the Parade route went up the Hill on Monument Avenue.
Up at the top, gone from the route will be upper Green Street, Bartlett Street, the north side of Monument Square, and the east side of Monument Square.
Those parts of the Parade are established in tradition, but organizers said they have long been wasted energy. Now, they said, was the time in order to lure back more bands and more marchers who are discouraged by the length of the old route.
Beckwith said previous chief marshals have noted that not many people come out to watch the Parade in the City Square neighborhoods and up around Bartlett Street. Often, the bands and marchers find themselves playing to empty streets, he said.
“It’s time,” he said. “It’s about the life of the Parade. It’s a shorter run and it’s easier for the bands and for the neighbors. One concern this will solve is fewer cars from the neighborhood will have to be moved from the streets. A lot of times, newer people to the Town were leaving Town in large numbers to get away from the Parade because of that. Now, hopefully, they won’t have to move their cars and they will stick around and enjoy the Parade.”
Also gone is the old tradition of the Chief Marshal bringing his entourage into Old Sully’s bar on Main Street for some “refreshment,” Beckwith said.
The older route was also tough for larger trucks, like Fire Trucks and Floats trying to navigate the small side streets and tight corners.