St. Patrick’s Day breakfast returns, in person, after Covid-induced break

A scene from the March 2019 Convention Center in South Boston. (Boston Irish file photo.)

By Gintautas Dumcius

The St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, an annual political tradition that features elected officials and candidates trading light-hearted barbs in South Boston, is set to return this March as a live and in-person event.

State Sen. Nick Collins, a South Boston Democrat, is set to host the event, which is scheduled for Sunday, March 20, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The breakfast will be livestreamed on CBS Boston and broadcast locally on Boston Neighborhood Network (BNN), according to a Collins spokesman.

The parade, a separate event held on the same day that takes marchers through the heart of South Boston, is also expected to take place after a pandemic-driven hiatus. The coronavirus pandemic forced officials to impose limits on large gatherings. The parade and breakfast typically draw top elected officials, including Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey.

The breakfast comes amid a busy election year, with major offices up for grabs. Baker isn’t running for a third term, and Healey is among two candidates hoping to place the office back in Democratic hands. State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz is also running for the Democratic nomination, while former state Rep. Geoff Diehl and Wrentham businessman Chris Doughty are facing off for the Republican nod.

After a cancellation in 2020, just as the pandemic hit, the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast went virtual in 2021, and was broadcast on NESN and WROL Irish radio. Collins ran the show from his living room, joined by his wife, Dr. Olivia Liff, and the breakfast featured remarks from President Joe Biden.

Marty Walsh, who was about to step down as mayor of Boston and take the job of Biden’s labor chief in Washington, D.C., noted how during the pandemic there were “tough decisions and hard sacrifices.” 
“And we endured a crisis by focusing on how we can help each other,” Walsh said. “That’s a core value of the Irish community and our entire city. ”

He also joked about how the candidates running to succeed him were offering to escort him to Logan International Airport, including soon-to-be Acting Mayor Kim Janey. “She’ll be walking me to a Silver Line stop and waving goodbye,” he quipped during the broadcast.