Despite the shortage of marching bands available to Mountmellick this year, the parade was a joyous and colourful affair.
Students of Leona’s School of Dancing high-kicked off proceedings at 1pm in O’Connell Square, performing jigs and reels, resplendant in black and blue.
The parade set off at 2pm, with St Peter’s Pipe Band leading hundreds of children from the many different local clubs, bathed in the surprisingly gloriously spring sunshine.
Sporting interest is clearly high in the town, with boisterous participation from young members of Mountmellick GAA Club, Mountmellick Soccer Club and the Rock GAA Club, and both local martial arts clubs, Celtic Dragon Kick Boxers and Laois Martial Arts.
The theme this year was ‘Mrs Brown and Mrs Green’. The Druid pub were the only ones brave enough to have a few ‘Mrs Browns’ on their float, but the recycling theme was well reflected. The tiny pupils of Mary Culliton’s Naonraí Naomh Aíne were adorably dressed as painted flower boxes and composters while Mountmellick Environment Group marched in dayglo jackets with their sweeping brushes and banner.
The youthful parade also included Mountmellick Youth Development Club, the Ladybird guides and Boy Scouts, a colourful showing by Mountmellick Baton Twirlers shaking their gold pompoms, and Anita Stanley’s dance troup Street Scene.
Local businesses played their part, including window cleaner Brendan Hughes, Seamus Sherlock, Megabounce who also provided entertainment in the square throughout the day, the Paint Store and Roll ‘n’ Bowl, throwing out sweets in time honoured tradition.
There was a fine display of vintage farm machinery and cars including a DeLorean, with Des White’s 1970 Vauxhall Viva getting a rousing cheer when it got a pushstart from stewards in front of the viewing stand.
Mountmellick’s teen rocksters Origen who have just won the Laois Youth Music Awards played a crowd pleaser of a set following the parade, ensuring the fun continued well into the evening.
Ena Doody, PRO of the parade committee, was delighted with the day.
“It takes a lot of planning, but on the day it’s all down to the people. It lifts people’s spirits and brightens up things,” said Ena, who had special thanks for the help provided by the Gardaí and Civil Defence.