The annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast on Sunday is one of the year's biggest political events in Boston and an opportunity for politicians to poke fun at their colleagues and themselves. State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry will host the event for the first time this year. Boston.com caught up with the senator to ask what she’s excited for and what the audience can expect at this year’s breakfast.
(To read more about Dorcena Forry's plans for the breakfast, click here.)
Q. When did you start preparing for the breakfast?
A. We started in earnest back in November, but really, as soon as I was elected we started thinking about it. The last month or so has been getting increasingly intense.
Q. How many breakfasts have you attended?
A. I've been to the breakfast many times prior to my election in 2005 and I’ve attended ever since.
Q. What are you most nervous about?
A. I'm nervous, but very excited. I guess I am most focused on making sure we get to all of the dignitaries who need mic time. We have a great line-up and 1-2 special surprise guests planned, so it's a tight program.
Q. What will be different this year, how will we know this is a LDF event?
A. I don't think anyone will confuse me with Bill Linehan— or any other previous host for that matter! But, I think in some ways they will recognize key elements— songs, local references and the focus, of course, on Irish and Irish-American culture.
Q. What are some jokes you have planned for the audience this year? Who has the best jokes?
A. I'm the host, so of course, I have the best jokes. If anyone tells you otherwise, let me know and I'll find them a choice seat — on the sidewalk.
Q. How do you plan to bridge the gap between generations and cultures in the audience?
A. That comes naturally to this event— everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day and my hosting is just the next step in that concept. I think younger folks will relate because we'll have some components that are new both visually and using social media. #stpatricksbreakfast
Q. Who are your favorite performers at the breakfast?
A. The Dropkick Murphys will be amazing— they have a great performance planned.
Q. What's the most unusual thing you've seen happen at one of these?
A. Whatever Bill Weld was doing last year —um, that was pretty unusual.
Q. What’s your favorite menu item at the breakfast?
A. Bill Linehan. No wait: Charlie Baker.
Q. What’s your favorite part about St. Patrick’s Day?
A. When it's over. (Laughing.) I really do love the songs and I love when everyone in the hall sings along. We'll have the lyrics printed and on the screen and I want to hear them singing at home too.
Q. What Irish traits/traditions have you picked up/learned since you married an Irish-America?
A. The Irish know how to have a good time — even in difficult moments. Wakes, funerals, political roasts. Never easy, but it's easier when you can try to focus on the good times. The Irish are experts are that. But, really, in most ways us Haitians and Irish have a lot in common: Both are countries that were once colonized/enslaved; both freed themselves through revolutions; both have Catholicism as their main religion. And the people— they are both great people who've made giant contributions to this country. I think it's a natural pairing.
Q. Over the years has the St. Patrick’s Day crowd changed?
A. Yes, the breakfast crowd has become more diverse. Jack Hart and Steve Lynch made great strides over the last decade-and-a-half by opening up the venue — and bringing in folks from surrounding neighborhoods. There's people from all walks of life at the breakfast.
Q. Did you attend the parade and breakfast growing up?
A. I never went until I was "in politics" in the 1990s. But I was aware of it. My pastor growing up in Dorchester was a South Boston native with a great sense of humor. My husband, Bill, grew up going to the breakfast. His father and his family would go to it as far back as the 1960s.
Q. Could a breakfast like this happen anywhere but South Boston?
A. Sure, but it would be lame. This event has the benefit of a regional audience and 70 years of tradition. It's the marquee event of its kind.
Q. What is it like to have a room full of South Boston/Dorchester residents getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day?
A. Yeah, well, we try not to mix those two groups up too much. Just kidding! It’s going to be nice to have the entire district represented, let’s not forget Mattapan and Hyde Park.
Q. Recommended St. Patrick’s Day beverages?
Sam Adams is one of our sponsors, so definitely a cold Sam Adams lager is on my dance card. My husband sticks to the Guinness.
Q. Anyone you want to thank?
A. I want to thank all of the amazing volunteers— there's more than 100 of them so far— who'll be there on March 16 to help run the event. I created a foundation— the First Suffolk Partnership— to raise funds to pay for the breakfast. It's a huge undertaking. My father-in-law Ed Forry and Jean-Robert Durocher, my brother-in-law, have been awesome in helping to navigate through the details. Finally, I want to thank Sean Pierce from my office and my whole team Tracey Ragland-Kelley, Marie Gay, Janice Blemur and Maggie Scott.