Whoops of sheer delight rang out at the Portlaoise St Patricks Day Parade awards night as the National Learning Network were announced as the overall winners with the outstanding float this year.
Apart from the plaques and trophy they also received a first prize sponsored by the Maldron Midway Hotel
First time entrants, Treo Nua Resource Centre in Knockmay were runners up and their large contingent were equally delighted with their achievement after putting weeks of work into their float.
“Both were popular winners and an example to all of the type of community involvement that is needed to make the parade even more successful and what satisfaction the entrants get from taking part,” PRO Jack Nolan said.
Other winners on the night were Joe Mallon Motors Main Renault dealers who won the best business float just beating Farrell’s Dress Hire into second place. Portlaoise Credit Union won best commercial float, Portlaoise Comhaltas best won best musical float, while the Basketball Club best sports club.
The award for Best school float went to Portlaoise College with the Gaelscoil commended. Raheen Vintage won best Vintage Club while the best Community Float went to the energetic Tidy Towns group who were missing the late Maureen Hickey for the first time. Silvers Saloon won the best pub entrant.
One of the most popular award winners on the night was the Ratheniska Comhaltas Marching Band whose participation was one of the highlights of the parade.
Once again a special award went to the UN Vets Post 27 group who led the parade, and Portlaoise, The Heath, Ratheniska, Clonad GAA clubs while the Gymnastic, Cricket and Special Olympics clubs also were singled out as were the Girl Guides and Scouts, St Joseph’s accordion band and the colourful and entertaining Shanahoe School Band. All of the Irish Schools of dancing that performed on the street were recognised.
This year the Parade committee ran a charity fundraiser in association with Laois Offaly Families for Autism with a balloon launch at the end of the parade and Chairman Ger Whelan along with Kevin Doyle manager of Laois Shopping Centre presented a cheque for €700 to a delighted LOFFA committee.
Already plans are advanced for next years parade and the call went out for more businesses, schools and community groups and organisations to take part and with a call for more pageantry and street entertainment. The theme for the 2013 parade was announced by Mr Nolan who told the groups that for the first time they now had 11 months to work on their floats with “Fairytales and Fables” giving huge scope for imaginative floats.