For a beloved local tradition, South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has a fair amount of baggage. Over the years, it’s become at least as well known for keeping gay groups out as it is for Hibernian revelry.

The parade is organized by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, an umbrella group that was led for years by Southie native John “Wacko” Hurley, a Navy vet who once said, of a gay group seeking to march, “This is a family-oriented day, and they’re out to destroy it.”

But now, like the neighborhood that hosts it, the parade is undergoing some striking changes.

Dave Falvey is a 35-year-old National Guardsman who grew up in Billerica and moved to South Boston in 2009, joining a wave of transplants who’ve transformed Southie from a gritty Irish-American enclave to a booming, dauntingly expensive neighborhood.

Recently, Falvey was elected commander of the Veterans Council, a role Hurley held for decades. And as he tells it, the days of the St. Patrick’s Day parade serving as a proxy battleground for the culture wars are over.

“It was only a few years ago that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still the law of the land,” Falvey said, suggesting that the debate over access to the Southie parade was part of a broader national conversation. “It’s hard for me to imagine that the LGBT service members I served alongside had to kind of keep secret who they were.”

And yet, Falvey added that he doesn't think it’s a good look when the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council is in the press for bad reasons.

If Falvey can keep the St. Patrick’s Day Parade from making headlines moving forward, it would be a major shift. Over the past quarter century, the event has been cancelled to keep gay groups out, sparked litigation that went all the way to the Supreme Court, and has been a hot potato for local politicians — with some, like former Mayor Tom Menino, simply refusing to participate.

Just this year, before Falvey’s election, organizers said they wouldn’t let the group OutVets march — then reversed course after a massive public backlash.

Now, Falvey says it’s time to end the drama surrounding parade access for good, and that the veterans he represents support that approach.

“I wouldn’t have this confidence if I felt like within the council, there were people fighting me and saying, ‘Hey, we don’t agree with anything you’re doing,’” Falvey said.

On Monday night, Falvey pitched his plans for the 2018 parade at Capo on West Broadway, introducing a new parade logo and grand marshal. The restaurant is the type of swanky venue you simply didn’t see in Southie a decade ago. But the crowd included several older vets who’ve watched the entire parade saga play out — and some of them raved about Falvey’s approach.

“It’s time for a change,” said Tom McCarthy. “The community’s changed, and the country’s changed. We don’t have those attitudes that the old guard, I’ll say, had.”

Others were more reserved, praising both Hurley, who died in 2015, and his successor.

“Wacko was [an] upfront, tell it like it is, old South Boston guy,” Ed Powers said. “Dave is a lot more even-keeled, takes things more in stride, but I think he’s going to be an absolute plus.”

For his part, Falvey — who also wants the Veterans Council to stage additional events and ramp up outreach to younger vets — is careful not to cast his election as a repudiation of Hurley’s legacy.  

“I know he put a lot of time and energy into the parade,” Falvey said. “I’m hoping to be that person who can put in the time and energy to make this thing 50 years from now a success, as it was 50 years ago.”