The annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast returned to an in-person event in South Boston on Sunday, breaking a pandemic hiatus with jokes, music and blunders from some of Massachusetts’ most prominent political figures.
Getting back to normal was a recurring theme for speakers at the breakfast, hosted by State Senator Nick Collins, incumbent of the “Southie seat” that usually hosts the event.
“It’s great to be back at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center here in South Boston, live and in person without a mask, and some of us self-respect,” the senator joked before speaking. launch into a rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall,” with lyrics inspired by Governor Charlie Baker’s pandemic response. (“We don’t need vaccination cards / What happened to local control?”)
In his last appearance at the head table as governor, Baker, who is not seeking re-election, scoffed at the idea of nepotism in state government.
“There will be a new governor and a new lieutenant governor here in Massachusetts, and I’m sure one of the things they will do when they take office is start flipping through the payroll,” said Baker, pointing to the 40,000 executive branch employees. plugged. “You’re probably going to find a lot of ‘Collins’ in there. They’re all qualified, they came honestly, nothing’s going on there, so leave them alone,” the governor said with a laugh.
The outgoing executive also said he was proud of the people of Massachusetts for their compassionate and community-based response to the pandemic.
“Despite the brutality, the trauma, the disruption, the isolation, and all the other things that came with this very difficult — and sometimes tragic — time, people were kind to each other,” Baker said.
Senate Speaker Karen Spilka got the laughs when she presented Baker with an inflatable duck in honor of her “lame duck” status and laid out a fake schedule for the man seeking to be her successor, the Republican Geoff Diehl.
“9 a.m. anti-science rally. 11 a.m. Capitol uprising,” she said with a laugh. “2 p.m. – and don’t worry Geoff, you’ll get there – you’ll manage to burn your book by 2 p.m.,” Spilka said.
During her first round at the head table, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu picked up a few laughs as she shed light on the constant protests outside her Roslindale home over the COVID-19 vaccination measures implemented when she became mayor.
“I’m proud to be the first mom elected to this office in Boston. It comes with the good and the bad,” Wu said to applause. “This morning I woke up, again to the sound of kids having a tantrum. Thankfully, [my sons] Blaise and Cass are usually asleep the whole time, but these protesters are getting loud.”
Perhaps the riskiest joke of the afternoon came from At-Large Boston Councilman Michael Flaherty, who attempted a joke about Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s absence from the event.
“Someone told me she was on vacation with her dear friend Monica Cannon-Grant,” Flaherty said, referring to the prominent local nonprofit leader recently charged with fraud. “That’s Boston’s version of Thelma and Louise,” he said in a collective grunt.
Norfolk County Treasurer Michael Bellotti scored the most laughs of the afternoon with a series of jokes, including a few with fake intercepted letters.
“Dear Mayor Wu, Thank you so much for courageously adhering to the strictest possible COVID restrictions for the City of Boston and for putting public health before all other selfish interests. Please don’t back down. Signed by Mayor Tom Koch and the Quincy Restaurant Association,” Bellotti said.
“Dear Boston Globe, I told you I was a better choice for Bostonian of the Year. Signed by everyone in Boston,” Bellotti said, referring to Cannon-Grant and his recent indictment.
State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Sonia Chang-Díaz played on work-from-home habits during the pandemic, placing a laundry basket and children’s toys around the event podium. “Now we can start,” she said.
Chang-Díaz also joked about his opponent’s large war chest. Attorney General Maura Healey, who is currently leading in the polls, has $4.2 million, according to the latest state political funding figures. Chang-Díaz owns about 8% of Healey’s total.
“You could use that money to endear yourself to our esteemed elected leaders, you could go soundproofing Michelle’s house, you could take on an even bigger challenge and buy Nick Collins singing lessons… you could do Spilka speaker and lecturer [Ron] Mariano a favor and is funding this training to finally teach members of the state legislature how to use the mute button on Zoom,” she said.
Notable absences included US Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Congressmen Stephen Lynch, who leads a seven-member bipartisan delegation to Poland that has called for more military aid to Ukraine as it defends itself against the Russian invasion.