It’s that time of year to break out your blue-and-gold attire and head down to Piers Park for the 31st Annual Eastie Pride Day.
This year’s Eastie Pride Day will kick off on Saturday, August 17 at 3 p.m. at the park. The forecast for Saturday is warm with temperatures in the high 70s–making it a perfect day to celebrate the neighborhood’s community spirit, talent and diverse cultures.
In 1988 former Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina was a staffer for former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn. Flynn had an idea–summer block parties and community celebrations in every Boston neighborhood to bring residents closer together.
LaMattina was tasked with coming up with community-wide celebration in Eastie. He and his wife Lisa just got married the year before, and at the time a lot of the friends they grew up with were moving to Saugus, Peabody, or Revere.
“One night Lisa and I were talking about the future and whether or not we should move, but Lisa said we should stay and take care of East Boston,” said LaMattina. “I’ll never forget that conversation because it was at that moment we made a commitment to the neighborhood and would work to improve the neighborhood.”
LaMattina said between his wife’s encouragement to stay in Eastie, and the fact the neighborhood still had a lot to offer he banned together a like-minded group of friends, community activists and longtime residents who had no intention of leaving their beloved neighborhood.
“It was sort of a ‘we’ll show them’ attitude towards the people that left the neighborhood,” said LaMattina. “I believed then and still believe today that we live in the best neighborhood in Boston, and I wanted to showcase all the talent and love people had for Eastie.”
So, on a hot summer night in 1988 at East Boston Memorial Stadium the first Eastie Pride Day was held. However, LaMattina admits he thought it would only be a one-time event.
“When we planned the first Eastie Pride Day we thought that would be it,” said LaMattina. “Have everyone come down, show off their Eastie Pride and it would be over.”
But the success of the very first East Pride Day was all LaMattina and longtime organizers like Larry and Carol Smith and the late Anthony Albano needed to keep it going.
“It just sort of mushroomed into this yearly event we’ve all been doing for half our lives,” he said. “When we planned the first Eastie Pride Day none of us thought it would turn into what it is today.”
So for the past 30 years LaMattina and company have been keeping something going that he holds very dear to his heart.
However, LaMattina said the younger generation will now be called upon to take over the reins of Eastie Pride Day.
“You can always use new ideas and new blood,” said LaMattina. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, Larry Smith and his wife, Carol, have been doing this for 30 years. It’s nice to see the younger generation now coming in and taking ownership because at some point we have to retire.”
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.