Portlaoise St Patricks Day Parade will be all about entertainment and colour, according to the organisers of this year’s events.
The festivities will start with a street festival from 2pm with the parade starting at 3.30 from Centrepoint on the Mountrath Road. Once again the Main Street will be one long stage with barriers lining the roadway from top to bottom and inside these will be seven different dancing schools showcasing their talents with musicians and street performers.
On show will be all of the local Irish dancing schools, Hip Hop and Youth Theatre and even belly dancers showing their art while Jeca the Clown will once again bring his unique entertainment to St. Patricks Day along with numerous Disney characters.
There will as usual be rigs in the Market and Lower Squares with top local bands playing from 2pm until the start of the parade.
Their will be a special free magic show in the Top Square with magician Ed Masters and this will run from 2 o’clock as well and not to be missed by all the smaller children.
The parade itself is all about colour this year and for the first time ever four local marching bands will take part. St Josephs Accordion band will be joined by Shanahoe School Band and All Ireland Fleadh champions Ratheniska Ceolthas Marching Band who will be making their first appearance at a St. Patricks Day parade.
The African Samba Band will bring a unique sound and colour to the parade while once again the highlight will be the attendance of fife and drum bands coming all the way from Belfast and Derry.
All of the local youth and sporting clubs have entered with many community groups taking part for the first time along with businesses and the ever popular Vintage Car and Tractor Clubs while both the FCA and UN Vets will lead the parade
The highlight of the parade will come as the last float passes the review stand in the Top Square when thousands of balloons filled with messages will be released into the air.
The parade committee this year teamed up with LOFFA the Laois Offaly Families for Autism group with the “Message in a Balloon” idea where for €3 you can put a message in a balloon and have it sent to the heavens. The balloons have been sold through schools and shops in the town and are on sale from any committee member or from Jack Nolan’s or PJ Kavanagh’s in the centre of the town.
Entries for the parade will be taken right up until this Friday and further details can be had from Ger Whelan 087 2530124, Patricia Hanley 087 9534601 or Jack Nolan 086 2624270 while Monica Delaney 086 6031425 is in charge of street entertainment.