St. Pat’s festivities kick off, but tensions in US

 St. Patrick’s Day festivities are in full swing with the usual merriment of bagpipes and beer, but political tensions lingered in the northeastern U.S., where city leaders will be conspicuously absent from parades over gay rights issues.

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio (dih BLAH’-zee-oh) will become the first mayor in decades to sit out the traditional march Monday because parade organizers refuse to let participants carry pro-gay signs. Mayor Martin Walsh wasn’t marching in Boston’s parade Sunday, either, after talks broke down that would have allowed a gay group to march.

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day provides the launch of the country’s annual push for tourism, a big part of the rural economy. Enda Kenny became the first Irish prime minister to attend Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast Sunday.

southie-big_small St. Pat's festivities kick off, but tensions in US

 ‘Diversity float’ will be part of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

 The dank South Boston warehouse held a chill last weekend when the flatbed arrived, a 20-foot-long landscaping trailer with a wood plank floor stained by dirt. Around the flatbed gathered almost a dozen people — predominantly men from the surrounding blocks — wearing winter coats and work gloves.

The job ahead was daunting: transforming the flatbed into a parade float with seven faux cannons. From each cannon would flow a different color of the rainbow — fabric draped over plastic piping — landing in a pot of gold.