PREPARATIONS are under way to ensure that this year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade has all the luck of the Irish.
Each year thousands of people young and old, and of all nationalities, line the streets of Huddersfield to celebrate the national festival.
And organisers say that this year’s event will be bigger and better with more floats and bands and more attractions to keep the crowds entertained.
This year’s parade is on March 9, just over a week before St Patrick’s Day itself on March 17.
The colourful parade, celebrating its eighth anniversary, will wind its way through the streets of Huddersfield. It will feature 10 decorative floats, depicting modern and traditional Irish themes from Gaelic football to a garden of leprechauns.
There will be music from seven bands, including two bands that are big in Ireland. The Saint Johns’ Pipe and Drum band from Tralee in County Kerry is recognised as one of the leading groups in the Emerald Isle, while the Kinsealy Ceili Band from Dublin are a young up-and-coming band.
Other bands lined up for the fun-filled family event include a samba group and a rock band.
Attractions on the day will include majorettes, street entertainment, leprechauns, fancy dress characters and face-painting.
Stalls will be selling a range of Irish merchandise, including rosettes, hats and flags.
The celebrations start at 12.30pm with music and dancing outside the Irish Centre, St Patrick’s Catholic Centre and the Market Place.
For the first time this year there will be a stage in the Market Place, featuring a disco and Irish dancing to help warm up the crowds before the big parade.
The parade starts at 1pm from the Irish Centre and will journey along John William Street, New Street, Cloth Hall Street, Market Street, Westgate and Castlegate.
Participants will then make their way back on to Market Street and Railway Street before returning along John William Street and Fitzwilliam Street to the Irish Centre at 2.30pm.
Last year the family event attracted around 5,000 people keen to celebrate all things Irish.
Organiser John McLoughlin reckons this year’s parade will be just as popular.
He said: “This year is probably the most exciting for us because it’s the most ambitious parade we’ve ever had, especially because we’ve got 10 floats and seven bands – there’s definitely more variety!
“There’s a great selection of floats mixing the mystical and the modern themes and the two bands we’ve got coming over from Ireland should be fantastic – they are very popular and many of the Irish community will be aware of them.
“It’s also the first time we’ve had a stage, which we decided on because large crowds gather before the parade and we wanted to give them something to help get them warmed up.
“It’s a popular event because it offers diversity and something for everyone. It’s just a nice family event.
“It promises to be one of colour, culture and craic and everyone is invited to come along.”
Information on the event is on the website www.theparadeonline.org