The 1974 North End Christmas Party Sure Looked Terrifying
December 22, 1974.
Boston magazine was just a few years old, and on the cover that month, a story about why your mail is late, accompanied by a picture of a randy postman oogling a Playboy on somebody’s stoop. At the Boston Garden that night, Bruins sharpshooter Phil Esposito scored his 500th NHL goal to lift Boston past the Detroit Red Wings.
Mayor Kevin White was rounding out his second term, poised to face his toughest challenge yet in state Sen. Joe Timilty the following year. Court-ordered school desegregation had begun just three months earlier, and Boston had plunged into civil unrest.
In the midst of the chaos that had consumed the city, we find the 1974 North End Christmas Party, preserved for posterity in the City of Boston Archives. More than four decades later, it is pure, unleaded, high-octane nightmare fuel.
You can make out most of the costumed characters: Rudolph, Frosty, Minnie Mouse, Daisy Duck, Goofy. But dear God, from what infernal canon does this guy hail?
It’s like the “Night on Bald Mountain” scene in Fantastia, when the demon lord Chernabog summons his ghoulish acolytes from the grave and they descend on a tranquil mountain hamlet. Except, it’s Hanover Street, and Donald Duck has Prince Spaghetti umbrellas.
Santa Claus arrived to the party via helicopter and was promptly stalked by an angry, slack-jawed Big Bird and his bug-eyed friend.
The St. Thomas Aquinas Band of Jamaica Plain proceeded down North Street, followed by what appears to be a derelict bridge troll.
Why do all these costumes look so unwashed?
The Globe‘s archives offer no explanation of any of this, no detailed account of the day the North End devolved into a Tim Burton fever dream. It is, perhaps in everyone’s interest, nearly lost to history.
You can check out the full album on the city archives’ Flickr page, a magnificent rabbit hole to dive down.