Tonight we hosted our own parade and to be honest we where worried about how many bands would turn up to do the parade as this year our date fell on the same day as the F.A Cup Final and the Northwest 200.
On the day it didnít have a major effect on the parade as 45 bands turned up and add with this the 23 bands who supported us in the Battle of the Bands event we are more than delighted and I must thank everyone single band for supporting both event.
We will as a band try to support others whenever possible be it an indoor event or an outdoor parade. There is many ways to support other bands other than a band parade so if we are needed we shall do our best to help.
The weather conditions where brilliant all day and after the sporting events earielr in the day we expected large crowds to gather as per usual to line the parade route around East Belfast to give their support to the parade and also the attending bands.
This year the parade started from a different spot that usual, to be honest I think this fooled a good amount of people and bands but we are sorry about this slight matter but this was to help the traffic flow down the Newtownards Road and hopefully the bands.
Last year the big problem was traffic and waiting queues of bands to come out of the old start point was just not acceptable in our eyes, I hope this year was much smoother and less waiting about for bands to start their route. Some may not have noticed this but as an organiser of the event I seen a big difference in the finishing time of the parade which seems to me that it worked out better.
This year the parade was led by the Pride of the North from Bootle in Liverpool; they are a band whom has done themselves proud by coming over and starting the parade off. The people of East Belfast gave them a fantastic reception all along the route of the parade and I know from speaking to a few members they said it was the greatest day of their band career. Comments like these always make me proud.
Also our old friends the Cambuslang Britannia from Glasgow whom have travelled over to our parade many times and again brilliant to see old friend an new friend attending our parade and they are all welcome back at anytime of the year.
The parade started off around 8:00PM and it took the first band just around the hour mark to complete the entire parade route, the parade started to flow at a steady rate and even more spectators came out to support the event. From speaking to many people it seemed that people form Scotland, England and all the corners of Ulster had made the trip to see the parade and this is fantastic to know that people take the time and effort to come and see most of the best bands in the land parading in East Belfast.
Anyone whom attends band parades must notice that young groups of teenagers and even younger kids are running about with their blue bag full of alcohol, it doesnít take much for them to get drunk and then they generally start acting the goat. This is becoming a big problem at all parades and every band will have to deal with this and I donít know what the solution is to this problem at all. It seems that watching the bands it not good enough for a lot of them.
Dealing with this matter is something that our band is willing to try and help with the blue bag brigade is going to kill a lot of band parade and if we donít get to grips with it then itís going to get way out off hand indeed. I think a big onus on this matter is down to the office licences selling these kids drink and to be honest it doesnít take a lot to see that they are all way under the legal drinking age.
Pubs and clubs all make money at band parades but our culture is now under attack from a new enemy Ė The Blue Bag Brigade. The drink is going to increase tension at parade and decrease the good people from bringing their kids and families onto our streets to watch the parades. To be honest I canít blame them for having that attitude because I wouldnít do this myself at this present time.
We can not blame the Police Service of Northern Ireland or the Parades Commission for this unwanted nuisance to our marching scene, some band parades have got so popular that large numbers of bands are now attracting the Blue Bag Brigade as an unwanted guest, I really must stress that this needs to be sorted out quickly as parades shall be ruined over these fools and this will help Sinn Fein/IRA in there never ending quest to stop our parades and to end our culture on the streets of Northern Ireland.
On the night the parade was looked after by our own marshals, and at time we where nearly overrun in places to control the massive amounts of spectators and of course the blue bag brigade, any band on parade that night must of noticed this and I hope this doesnít put band and people off from attending our annual parade.
Next year we hope to try and address this matter and I stress the word is try as all bands seem to get this now on a weekly basis but we shall learn from others and do our outmost to make our parade one of the best marshalled parades of the year,
All of the bands that attended played to very high standards as they always do and tonight I feel they all give a little bit more as many think this parade is one of the best in the land. I can not single out one band on the night who stole the show as I feel this is very unfair and in my eyes all the bands where winners on this occasion
I would like to hand them all out a personal thank you for attending and also to the other bands that attend year in year out but unfortunately could not attend due to these sporting events taking members away from parading.
To all the people whom turned out in large numbers to support out parade an everyone in our own band for the hard work in collecting funds for our new uniforms and also for marshalling well the parade over the entire parade route. Being in a band is hard work but when everyone chips in it makes life a lot easier.
Please click the below text links to view video footage of the bands in action at the parade, please note some of these videos may take a while to load;