Tuesday, 15 March 2016

St Patrick's Day Parade

Pic of Irish flag with with large shamrock leaf on top

Luck o' the Irish. London's St Patrick Day Parade took place in sunshine and blue skies. Thousands turned out to line the streets four days ahead of the official day of 17th March. There was a sea of green everywhere. You could join in whether you were Irish or not. The more the merrier as far as the Irish are concerned.

Two leprechauns at the London's St Patrick Day Parade
St Patrick
St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. The Feast of St Patrick has both religious and cultural significance. Its official date coincides with the day the saint died. Patrick was a Christian missionary and bishop in the 5th Century. According to legend he used the 3-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish Pagans.

St Patrick at the start of the London parade
Large crowds
If Dublin was a little quiet on Sunday, it must have been because a fair number of the Irish started the celebrations in London. A bit like the Tour de France starts outside France maybe? As one of the parade commentators said, St Patrick's Day party starts early and continues into Easter.

Great Spirit of Inclusion

Pic of Irish Children's Band in London's St Patrick's Day Parade
There was a wide age range. A baby fast asleep in his pram, but dressed for the occasion in the colours of the Irish flag. A grandmother walked behind her young granddaughter as she showed off her Irish dance skills.

A special needs group appeared walking and in wheelchairs among the throng. There were also people in wheelchairs within other groups. 

Participants made a special effort to come across and talk to the young girl in a wheelchair nearby me with her parents and sister.

Various protest groups also walked within the parade to promote their cause. There was even a group handing out leaflets for the British to vote to stay in the EU with the Irish.
Dublin Women seeking equal pay

The main part of the day was for merriment. There were music, dancing and green costumes galore. 

There were some great marching bands from Ireland, the UK and the USA. The very smart Texan marching band were brilliant. 

Pic of American marching band in smart white and black uniforms carrying their instruments
Coppell High School Marching Band from Texas in London

Their accompanying American majorettes put on a great display twirling their large green flags.

Texan Majorettes in the St Patrick's Day Parade

And of course there were flutes, pipes, drums and fiddles and bagpipes too.

Irish bagpipe marching band in St Patrick's Day Parade
Pic of young Irish dancing on float holding hands as they dance in line facing opposite directions
It was great to see so many young Irish dancers included in the parade both on floats and in the parade.

Ooh! I musn't forget to mention the rugby float announcing the St Patrick's Day match...

Pic of Irish Rugby float with banner for special St Patrick's Day game
Irish Rugby Float in London's St Patrick's Day Parade
The fire brigade and the police were represented in the parade too. The South London Irish Club even brought along an old fire engine from West Sussex.

Pic of police officers marching in uniform

The fire engine was one of a wide range of vehicles in the parade - from articulated trucks to roller skates. There were scooters, bikes, a mobile home, an old panda car and a JCB.

Roller skating behind an old police car 
JCB in London's St Patrick Day Parade
South American culture was represented too with dancers in very colourful costumes. The Irish welcome all.

Bolivian Dancers in St Patrick's Day Parade
South American dancers on London street
At the end of the parade the festivities continued in Trafalgar Square.

The queue at the bar in Trafalgar Square after the parade

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