- Allston-Brighton Parade Founder Joe
Hogan Speaks Out
- The following is an excerpt from a taped interview conducted
by local historian Bill Marchione with long-time Allston-Brighton
community activist Joe Hogan.
- Bill Marchione: Why don't we begin, Joe, with some
background information. When did your family come to
Allston-Brighton, and where did you grow up?
- Joe Hogan: I grew up at the Fidelis Way Housing
Project. We were one of the first families in there back in 1951.
We lived there for nineteen years. We moved out in 1970, to
Nonantum Street in Oak Square. I lived there with my parents until
they passed on in 1980. I continued living in the Oak Square area
until 1986, when I moved up to Brighton Center, to the top floor
of the Rourke's Building. I was there from 1986 to 1999. When the
building was sold, a few years back, I moved into an apartment on
Foster Street, near St. John's Seminary, but I have since moved to
Quincy with my fiancee, Phyllis Donovan. So I lived in Brighton
for fifty-one years altogether.
- BM: Tell us a little about your schooling.
- JH: I went to St. Gabriel's Elementary School, went to
Boston English, and graduated from there. I went on to
UMass-Boston, graduating from there with their first class in
1970, then worked for a year in Boston City Councillor Joe
Timilty's office, with Tom Menino, and in September of 1971,
started at Suffolk Law School at night, graduating in June of
- BM: So you've been practicing law how long?
- JH: Twenty-six years altogether.
- BM: Always here in the Allston-Brighton community?
- JH: Pretty much so. About five months after graduating
from law school, I went to work for a lawyer in Dorchester, very
near the Ashmont Station---a very good experience. He had a lot of
good cases. Then, in 1978, I went to work in the office of the
Suffolk County District Attorney as an Assistant District
Attorney. I was there for a short time. I then worked for the
Boston School Department, as Counsel for Desegregation, from July
of 1978 to January of 1980. It was after that that I established
my law practice here in Brighton.
- BM: How did you first become involved in the community,
Joe? I remember that your brother John ran for State Senator in
the early-1970s. Was that how you got involved?
- JH: Yes, I got involved in John's campaign. He did very
well here in Brighton, but the district also included Belmont,
Waltham, and Cambridge. John won Brighton by two to one, he didn't
do well in the other sections of the district. Later John went on
to Harvard Business School. He's now working on Wall Street.
- I got involved shortly after John's campaign in the Oak Square
- We were active in opposing the closing of the Oak Square
School, working with people like Charlie Vasiliades and Principal
Ellen Murray. Then, following the death of my parents, in 1980, I
was preoccupied with settling their estate and establishing my law
practice. I practiced out of Jim Haroules' office, and I then went
in with Connie Bletzer at 300 Market Street.
- It was at that time, in 1983, that I ran for the office of
District City Councillor. After that I continued my law office at
410 Washington Street, in the old Congregationalist Church
Rectory, where I remained from 1984 to 1999, and then moved up to
353 Washington Street.
- BM: Were you the President of the Oak Square Civic
Association for a time?
- JH: Yes, I was.
- BM: What kind of issues did the Oak Square neighborhood
face back then?
- JH: The big issue in 1975 was a proposal to develop
apartments on the Crittenden Hospital property. I think a similar
proposal came up recently, and was again turned down. Also, the
Oak Square School issue. The association had pretty regular
meetings in the old Oak Square Bungalow. We always had a big
group. Oak Square, as you know, was and still is a very active
- BM: Now, turning to the current situation, what would
you say are the principal problems facing Allston-Brighton
- JH: Well, for one thing, the community seems to have
lost a lot of its political clout. Going back to the mid-1980s,
you'll recall, Allston-Brighton had a citywide City Councillor
[Michael MCCormack]; we had the Suffolk County Sheriff
[Bob Rufo] living here, and we had our Congressman
[Joe Kennedy] as a resident, in addition to very active
district representatives on the City Council and School
- We had many commissioners and city officials who were local
residents. That clout no longer exists. Now I think we're taken
for granted. The city doesn't have to pay much attention to us
because we don't turn out to vote in the numbers that other city
neighborhoods do. There was a big brouhaha nine years ago when Bob
Rufo ran for Mayor and his own own home town community didn't turn
out to vote for him. I think that our Allston-Brighton civic
organizations are not helping the problem by fighting amongst
themselves. I also see the Tab, , attacking the BAIA. The problem
with the Tab is that it's not of the community, it doesn't have a
local office. We told them that when we met with Patrick Purcell
last March, when the Herald was about to take over the paper. We
asked them to establish an office in Brighton Center, or somewhere
else in the community, so people could come in with news and talk
to them directly. As matters stand, their office is miles away in
Needham. Nothing has happened on that request.
- In Flynn's time we had Ray Dooley out here [the Mayor's
Chief of Staff], we had Lisa Chapnick here [head of the
community schools]; we had Charlie Doyle with the municipal
cable station; we had Pat McGuigan with Neighborhood Development.
Flynn had a large organization of Allston-Brighton people and he
cared deeply about this community. Allston-Brighton does not have
the clout that Hyde Park, West Roxbury, South Boston, Roslindale
have---the other areas of the city that vote heavily. I see this
more clearly now that I'm living outside the community than I did
when I was in the middle of it all.
- BM: What are some of the other problems that the
- JH: I think they all stem from our political weakness.
I don't think we're getting anything done. I'm not very
optimistic, to be frank. I'd like to see something implemented
that Brian McLaughlin talked about ten years or so ago. We have
more media outlets in Allston-Brighton than in any other part of
the city---WPAX just opened where the Ground Round used to be on
Soldiers Field Road; WBZ radio and WBZ TV; Station 38 on the
Birmigham Parkway; Channel 2, etc., etc., and the radio stations
at Brighton Landing---there are about five of them there. We've
never done anything through the media outlets whereby they would
act together for the benefit of the community. We make absolutely
no use of these resources at all.
- There's is also an unfortunate lack of unity in the community
that weakens us. Every group has its own turf. That's natural to a
degree. There are turf wars everywhere. But it's a particular
problem here. In my opinion the Allston-Brighton Parade is the one
thing that brings this community together without any controversy
- BM: Well, let's talk about the parade. You're best
known, Joe, as the founder and principal organizer of the annual
Allston-Brighton Parade. Give us a little bit of history here.
Where did the parade idea come from?
- JH: Good question. When I worked for Timilty way back
in the 70s, I didn't know that parades existed in other parts of
Boston---in Hyde Park and West Roxbury, for example. All I knew
about was the St. Patrick's and Columbus Day parades---the ethnic
parades. Then when I ran for District City Councilor here in 1983,
I proposed running a parade in Allston-Brighton. And frankly, I
never thought it was going to happen! We didn't know what in God's
name we were doing, the first time, we really didn't. On September
9, 1984 I stood there on the Malvern Street Soccer Field not
knowing what the hell I was doing, or how to put the thing on the
street---and it just happened, and from that point on it has just
progressed. The recent November 4 Parade was awesome. It was on
cable TV---the best yet, very broad participation. We had Fats
Pellegrini from Newton put in a third of the parade. It brings
everybody together, creates a good feeling.
- BM: Getting back to the origins of the parade, did you
draw on the experience of any other communities in planning the
- JH: Yes, as I said when I ran for office in 1983, I
proposed this idea, fully expecting to get elected, and when I
didn't, I thought the idea was dead, but there was a fellow who
called me in April of 1984, a Black fellow who'd worked in Mel
King's mayoral campaign, and we met at the Pizzeria Uno to have
lunch and talk about this thing. He said,"You've gotta do that
parade!" And I said, "Did you see the election results? I lost!"
To which he shot back, "That doesn't mean anything!" Well, my
first question to him was, "Are you going to help?," and he told
me he was about to move to Philadelphia!
- But, anyway, I moved ahead with the idea. We had meetings
everywhere. I think we started at the Brighton Congregational
Church. The late Maurice Sullivan joined us. He was very helpful
to us---the Sullivans have always been very helpful. Aramis Camps
was there (Campy), Judy Bracken was with me, my brother Bill,
Manny Fernandes, and others who are no longer involved, and it
came off. It was the worst day of my life, but it came off. Mayor
Flynn's people were wonderful. Getting back to the question, "Did
you get any help?," we got help from Domenic D'Ambrosio and Amy
Domenici and people from the Mayor's office, Rosemary Sansone,
etc., they helped us put on that first parade. And it turned out
- But, as I said, I wasn't at all confident as we approached the
date. I remember at one point in August I turned to my brother
Bill and said, "This is not going to happen. This thing is going
to fall apart on September 9." You get these cold feet. I was
ready to abandon the idea. And then I talked it over with Judy and
the others, and everone said, "No, it will work itself out," and
it did. And from that point on it was much easier.
- The parade has grown into something to which people really
look forward. When we had to postpone the 2001 parade because of
the September 11 attacks (it was supposed to take place five days
later), many people called to urge us to reschedule. And the
politicians were really supportive. It was Steve Tolman who
recommended doing it two days before the City elections, pointing
out that the politicians would love it. And it was the biggest one
we ever had! We never went this late before, but as I say, it was
really well done. And we had a lot of groups participate this time
that never had before---Fats Pellegrini, the North End Band, the
Sons of Italy from Haverhill. We can't get these groups as early
as September, the high school bands, for example. They're not
usually back in school long enough to participate. This year we
had high school bands from Southbridge, Salem, and several other
communities---really good bands.
- I do enjoy it. I complain about it every year, and what have
you, but it's now in a pattern---we have it all lined up on a
computer and it's a lot easier than it was years ago. But I do
enjoy it. I especially enjoyed commenting on the groups on cable
this time around.
- BM: How much did this year's parade cost, Joe, and
where did the money come from?
- JH: It costs $25,000. The money came from the city,
from corporate donors---New Balance Shoes and Harold Brown were
particularly generous. Most of the money has to be raised from
- BM: What can be done to improve the parade in future
- JH: Well, publicity has been a problem. Publicity was
especially important this year because we had to to reschedule. As
a result lots of people didn't know that the parade was taking
place. The Tab hasn't given us as much attention as we'd like,
especially in the issue preceding the parade. What I was hoping
for this year---and they said it was going to happen, but it
didn't, were that banners would be placed on light poles on the
main streets publicizing the parade. We could put those up in
August.of next year, announcing "Allston-Brighton Parade---Sunday,
September 15, 2002," and virtually everyone would know. It would
be a constant reminder to people. That's something for us to work
toward for the next parade.