By John Lynds
It’s that time of year to break out your blue and gold attire and head down to Piers Park for the 28th Annual Eastie Pride Day.
This year’s Eastie Pride Day will kickoff on Saturday, August 20 at 3 p.m. at Piers Park. The forecast for Saturday is warm sunny skies with temperatures in the mid 80s–making it a perfect day to celebrate the neighborhood’s community spirit, talent and diverse cultures.
“Almost three decades and we are still going strong,” said Eastie Pride Day founder City Councilor Sal LaMattina. “In the past few years we’ve had more and more young volunteers who, in the future, will hopefully take over the reigns of the event and keep it going for another 28 years.”
Again this year LaMattina said organizers kept in the spirit of ‘all things Eastie’ with acts like Angelina Botticelli, the Jessica Gordon Academy of Performing Arts, Tokyo Joe’s Karate Studio and Veronica Robles Cultural Center.
Like always all the food, music and fun is free of charge.
“This year we have some great Eastie talent like Angelina Botticelli and Veronica Robles,” said LaMattina. “Each year we get bigger and stronger and we continue to show the whole city that East Boston is the greatest community to live, work and play,” said LaMattina.
Eastie Pride Day was launched in 1988 in response to the wave of urban flight from Boston during the 1970s and 1980s. In Eastie, many Italians and Irish took off for the suburban towns of Saugus, Peabody and Revere while the burgeoning new Latino and Asian population were stripped of mentors and neighbors to teach them of Eastie’s rich history.
Seeing this trend having a potentially devastating impact on the neighborhood’s future, LaMattina thought it would be better to hold a yearly event where all of Eastie’s resident, old and new, could come together and celebrate their love for the neighborhood and meet each other during a friendly and fun festival.
This, LaMattina said, gave resident the opportunity to understand their neighbors and the different cultures in the neighborhood. Those who attended the first few Eastie Pride Days were less inclined to look for another place in which to live once they saw the neighborhood’s mix of cultures a positive and not a negative.
“I remember 28 years ago we many residents were leaving for a varity of reasons,” said LaMattina. “It’s growth over the years is evidence that the majority of East Bostonians are proud to be in this neighborhood and love their community and love all their neighbors. Each year I always bump into somebody that left in the 1980s and they always say how much they regret leaving and wish they could move back.”
LaMattina said the vision he had 28 years ago that is now a reality would have never been possible without the help of all the volunteers that pitch in year after year.
The support of the East Boston Foundation, the Community Centers, the Mayor’s Office, the Eastie Pride Day Committee, Zumix, Massport and the countless others that donate time and money to the event is what keeps Eastie Pride Day going.
“Eastie Pride Day would not be possible if not for the help of the countless dedicated volunteers that come out to help make sure things run smoothly, the day would not be possible without them,” said LaMattina.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina (center) with volunteers during last year’s Eastie Pride Day. This year’s event will kickoff at 3 p.m. at Piers Park on Saturday.