Irish eyes were smiling on the Défilé de la Saint-Patrick

Photo: Jay Ouellet

Mayor Régis Labeaume (in green St. Pat's High School jacket, bottom right) shakes hands with spectators as the sixth annual Défilé de la Saint-Patrick makes its way down Rue Saint-Jean toward Quebec City Hall. Deputy mayor Michelle Morin-Doyle (also in green jacket, bottom left) marches with parade president Stephen Burke, closely followed by the Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society of the New York City Police Department, and hundreds of other parade participants. 

It was surely the luck of the Irish that brought out beaming sunshine last Saturday as the sixth annual Défilé de la Saint-Patrick pranced and danced its way through the streets of Quebec City. It was a perfect day for a parade to celebrate the city's Irish heritage. 

The parade just gets bigger and better every year. An enthusiastic crowd estimated at 50,000 cheered nearly 1,200 participants who marched, sang and danced from St. Patrick's High School to City Hall. Among the participants were the celebrated "dream team," the renowned pipes and drum corps of the New York, Boston and Chicago police departments. 

The Montreal Pipes and Drums, the RCMP pipers, accompanied by two magnificent horses from the Musical Ride, the 78th Fraser Highlanders and the Naval Band of HMCS Montcalm added to the crowd's excitement. Irish wolfhounds, the Éclairs de Québec and the Titans marching bands, several groups of Irish dancers and Irish family groups and a group of rather terrifying Vikings delighted the crowds along the way. 

Stephen Burke, president of the Défilé de la Saint-Patrick, said, "The weather today was exceptional. The people along the parade route, twice as many as we had last year, witnessed a lively musical parade. With such great support from the citizens of Quebec, one could easily bet that next year's seventh edition will be just as memorable."  

The volunteers and organizers of the parade did a fantastic job that was much appreciated by the locals and by many rather surprised visitors who probably wondered why there was a St. Patrick's parade at the end of March! Held 11 days after the "official" St. Patrick's Day on March 17, the event was well worth the wait for the added warmth. 

Mayor Régis Labeaume and deputy mayor Michelle Morin-Doyle thoroughly enjoyed the day, waving at the appreciative crowds along the way. Grand marshall Daniel O'Dowd waved to people from his position at the head of the parade. 

Morin-Doyle said that it was an amazing experience to march in New York City's St. Patrick's Day Parade, which is recognized as the world's largest. The New York parade, actually held on St. Patrick's Day, with some 150,000 participants and an estimated two million spectators, lasted almost five hours, and the citizens of the Big Apple warmly welcomed the visitors from Quebec City.