The street theatre extravaganza, expected to attract upwards of 40,000 spectators along its new route in the vicinity of the People’s Park on Sunday afternoon, is the creation of eccentric inventor Mr Menagerie, played by well-known undertaker John Thompson, who has made a parading zoo that will captivate children and adults alike.
Speaking to The Munster Express earlier this week, Parade Director Dermot Quinn acknowledged that moving the Spraoi parade to a new date – and the middle of the day – would have a huge impact on Sunday’s spectacle…by creating for the people of Waterford the best parade in years.
“This year’s parade was designed with the daytime in mind. It’s brighter and far more colourful than previous years and will be a much more vibrant experience for the audience. Added to this is the fact that there won’t be crash barriers along a large section of the route, so that performers will be able to get really close to spectators and make them feel a part of the parade. This means the action will be really ‘in your face’, which should be great craic for our performers too.
“With Mr Menagerie, we wanted to go back to our roots, to create a more intimate parade reminiscent of our early days and Sunday’s performance will be the most family-orientated in years. We’ve also added almost a mile to the route so the audience can spread out more to get a better vantage point. This was really our response to families with young children telling us that, in previous years, the kids couldn’t see the performers because the crowd was so thick in front of them.
“Another complaint from previous years which we’re trying to tackle is that people grew tired (and children bored) waiting for the parade to arrive so we’ve placed five live bands along the route to entertain the audience while they’re waiting for the show.”
Whilst Spraoi has made every endeavour to listen to the wishes of its loyal audience, they ask that the people of Waterford also play their part on Sunday afternoon. “We’re asking the audience to do two things for us on Sunday”, Dermot continued. “Firstly, listen to the stewards and do what they request, particularly when it comes to keeping back off the road to allow the parade to pass. And secondly, remember the children in the audience and, wherever possible, allow them to come to the front of the crowd to get the best possible view.”
The parade is the highlight of ‘Spraoi in the Park’, a brand-new summer festival set to bring the Park to life from Thursday to Sunday. Other highlights include ‘Flower Power’, an interactive installation which will give children of all ages the opportunity to create a huge artificial flower bed in the park. Another major attraction at the Park will be Levity II from Architects of the Air, an 800-sq metre inflatable sculpture featuring labyrinthine tunnels and spacious domes where liquid, light and colour combine to create an exciting, entertaining, calming and inspirational environment.
Saturday afternoon will see various parts of the park given over to music, dance and other fun activities, from 2-6pm, while the Levity II Luminarium will operate from 2-7pm on Thursday and Friday and from 12noon-7pm, Saturday and 12noon-5pm, Sunday.
Sunday afternoon’s parade commences at 3pm outside Waterpark School on Newtown Road and will circle the People’s Park, via Water St, Otteran’s Place, Catherine St, The Mall, Lombard St, William St and Newtown Road.
There will be absolutely no parking allowed on the parade route, so try and leave the car behind. If you have to bring it, park well away from the parade route and walk to your chosen viewing spot. There will be three fixed ambulance points along the route, and the stewards will guide you to any of these if required. There will be a specially cordoned off viewing area for the physically disabled and those with special needs in front of the main entrance to the Park on Newtown Road, with vehicular access up to 2pm.
The following road closures and parking restrictions should be noted.
* Road Closures:
2pm-6pm Lombard St, William St, Newtown Road
2pm-5pm Park Road, Water St, South Parade, Waterside, Catherine St
3pm-4pm The Mall and The Quay (from junction of Henrietta St to Tower Hotel)
* Parking Restrictions:
From 7am: No Parking on Catherine St. and Park Road
From 10am: No Parking on Water St and Otteran’s Terrace
Volunteers are still required for Sunday’s parade, tel Shauna Farrell at Spraoi on 841808.