The Défilé de la Saint-Patrick swings into spring

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Photo: Jay Ouellet

The Chicago Police Department Pipes and Drums gave Quebec City quite a show during the Défilé de la St-Patrick.

The brilliant weather last Saturday certainly put a spring in everyone’s step, and the skirl of the bagpipes certainly put a bit of swing into spring. Everyone was Irish for the day, many wearing as much green as possible, often topped by wildly improbable hats!

Parade participants (especially those wearing kilts) were delighted with the relatively warm temperatures, the sunny day and the masses of people who came out to watch the parade as it wound its way along Avenue Cartier, down Grande Allée and into Old Quebec to City Hall. In many places, people were standing three to four rows deep.

Grand Marshal Stephen Burke was delighted to lead the parade, along with Mayor Régis Labeaume and Deputy Mayor Michelle Morin-Doyle, accompanied by many other municipal and provincial political dignitaries.

The presence of the pipe and drum bands of the New York City Police Department, the Boston Police and the Chicago Police Department, plus the Toronto Fire Services Pipes and Drums, the RCMP Pipe band, and Quebec City’s own 78th Fraser Highlanders delighted the large crowds of people as they marched through the city. There were dozens of dancers, packs of wolfhounds, and other assorted dogs, and a beautiful pair of black RCMP horses. Many local organizations, Irish family groups and businesses proudly marched along the two-kilometre-long parade route.

This reporter met RCMP Sgt. Charles Proteau at the staging area of the parade. When he was 12 to 13 years old, Proteau used to be a QCT paperboy in the Charlesbourg district in 1963-64, when the paper was delivered daily to subscribers’ doors (the paper became a weekly in November 1971).

The crowds attending this year’s parade were estimated to be twice as big as past years, more than 50,000, and the parade seemed to go off without a hitch, excluding a few moments when the procession had to stop to let some cross traffic pass by.

Grand Marshal Stephen Burke declared it to be the “most beautiful parade” ever.

All of this could not have been accomplished without the participation of the many groups and organizations who marched in the parade, and the team of volunteers who helped it run smoothly and safely.