The Défilé de la Saint-Patrick just keeps getting bigger and better!!

Photo: Jay Ouellet

Award-winning QCT photographer Jay Ouellet captured this telephoto shot from the ramparts near Porte Saint-Jean looking west down rue Saint-Jean. Leading the way is a party of civic officials, including Mayor Régis Labeaume and Deputy-Mayor Michèle Morin-Doyle followed by the NYPD Pipes and Drums. Thick crowds on both sides of the street welcomed what has become one of Quebec City’s most popular parades.

The fourth edition of the Défilé de la Saint-Patrick took to the streets of downtown Quebec City on Saturday afternoon, March 23, proudly led by Grand Marshall James Donovan. Mayor Régis Labeaume and Deputy Mayor Michèle Morin-Doyle, sporting St. Patrick's High School Fighting Irish sports jackets, also marched at the front of the parade, receiving appreciative waves and comments from spectators who had come out to enjoy this colourful springtime event.

The parade's mascot, an Irish wolfhound called Bono, and a carriage drawn by six Canadian horses, plus several other horses, trotted along the parade group to the pleasure of appreciative crowds.

More than 1,500 people participated in the parade, including 120 professional musicians. This year, three renowned police pipe and drum bands from New York, Boston and Chicago marched in the parade. These three bands were the focus of the official parade party held at Le Pub irlandais Saint-Patrick on Saturday evening. The policemen, some in active service and some retired, proudly demonstrated their dedication to preserving traditional Irish culture through music.

The three American bands plus the Montreal Pipes and Drums, the RCMP Pipes and Drums, and the 78th Fraser Highlanders made this year's parade one of the most musical of the year. Local Irish dance groups from Shannon and Beauport as well as other musical marching groups like the Éclairs and the Titans kept everyone moving along at a sprightly pace.

Many community organizations, such as the Morrin Centre, Jeffery Hale Community Services, the Quebec Art Company, and Quebec-Irish family groups, had representatives who proudly walked the route.

Other participants added a more poignant note to the parade, including St. Patrick's High School students Kaitlyn Craig and Kimberly Myrand. Each person in their group held a balloon with the name of a child who had died on Grosse-Île during the Great Famine. The balloons were later released in memory of the children.

The streets of the parade route were lined with thousands of people both young and old, decked out in their finest green to celebrate either their or someone else's Irish heritage. As the saying goes, "There are only two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were."