A fine but cool day on Monday saw huge crowds throng the Quays of Waterford to view the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The attendance, estimated at more than 25,000, was among the largest of recent years and the float numbers were also up.
While it may not have been as spectacular as some major industrial parades of the past, the community emphasis has continued to grow with firms assisting in boosting that element of the celebrations.
The Inner City Recyclers float, with its topical theme, was adjudged the overall winner, with sponsorship from the Waterford Enterprise Board and assistance from Waterford Youth Services.
The large number of ethnic groups now in the city was reflected with the Polish School winning the best walkers award. African and dance groups also participated to colourful effect.
Children’s Group Link with Mary Halligan also scooped an award for the best community float, working with the North West Suburbs.
Playright Jim Nolan from the Johns Park area of the city was the Grand Marshall in recognition of his great contribution to the arts in the city and he took up his seat with his family at the Mayor’s stand.
We found great dance and music in the parade to keep the feet tapping in the cold and the hands warm with applause. On the dance front there was much variety with Salsa dancing, break beat dancing as well as traditional Irish.
World Irish dance Champion, 12 year old Richard Murray from Tramore, of the Higgins Academy of Dancing, performed with his fellow dancers with the Munster Express entry. The Mulcahy School of Dancing also participated.
Waterford Brass and Pipe Bands, including the T.F. Meagher Fife and Drum Band, were again part of the scene, adding to the sense of celebration on this, a holy week. The St. Patrick’s Day Mass had to be transferred back to Saturday, but this did not deter spectators.
Spraoi again had an excellent float with Waterford City Council. The Waterford City Enterprise Board had a recycling theme in their float with lots of young drama artists shepherded by Ollie Breslin brightening up the streets as usual.
The Hope Foundation charity, who raise money for the poor of India, had a very colourful entry. There were lots of scouts and hurlers representing various clubs in the parade and they clearly enjoyed the day out as well as keeping up traditions.
As usual the colour party of army and navy personnel led the parade, leaving a gap for the next group, the Harley Davidson bikers who made lots of noise, followed by the mini-cooper car enthusiasts.
Mayor of Waterford, Cllr. Mary O‘Halloran, expressed her satisfaction with the parade and had special mention for Jim Nolan as Grand Marshall. A number of visiting councillors from Waterford’s twin city of St. Herblain also came over from France specially for the parade.
Afterwards, the Irish group Branner played in the Greyfriars gallery to good audiences.
Over at John Roberts Square, Gorbachev, followed by The Saviours of Space, entertained a younger audience of up to`1,000 straight after the parade.
O’Connell St. had a special street market of home produced food and crafts. Face painters were also busy at John Roberts Square near where the bands were playing.
The fine weather made all these events more enjoyable.
Bishop William Lee and Dean Trevor Lester imparted a joint blessing to all.