A week ago, Montreal was all decked in green to celebrate its 188th Saint Patrick’s Parade, the oldest in North America after New York‘s. The city has come together for this yearly event, no matter if it’s sunny or snowing, without interruption since 1824. The United Irish Societies of Montreal has organised the show since 1928.
This year, the parade took place on an unusually warm day; by mid-afternoon temperatures had reached a high of 22ºC, surpassing the previous record set in 2010 of 14ºC as the warmest day for a Saint Patrick’s Parade. There were lots of people wearing shades and t-shirts. Montreal‘s winters are definitely not as fierce as they used to be!
Since early in the morning, people started gathering up and down Saint Catherine St. in the city center. Everybody was picking their spots to watch the parade and waiting patiently. As I was still weak from my sprained knee, I chose to stay away from the corner around Bishop St. That’s where the heaviest party action is on the parade’s route. So I didn’t want to risk getting pushed or something.
After a bit of searching, I found the perfect spot to watch the parade just in front of the Faubourg, on the then shady side of the street. There were lots of people everywhere of all ages. Irish or not, everyone had a reason to celebrate for the day. According to an article in Montreal’s Gazette, “organisers pride themselves on a long-standing tradition of inclusiveness”. During the Saint Patrick’s celebrations everyone is welcome to take part in the celebration.
Finally, a few minutes after noon, the parade started moving forward with lots of marching men in kilts playing bagpipes; there were also lots of men in uniforms, some ladies next to me couldn’t wait for their chance to have their photo taken with the firefighters! There were beauty queens, both from the past and from the present.
There were people being driven in horse-drawn carriages and antique cars. There were marching bands and cheerleaders that left the male spectators gasping for air with their jumps and dancing in tiny mini skirts. However, the ones that got the most cheers and laughs were the clowns and their little cars.
After two hours, the parade was still going strong; but I was getting tired of standing around and my knee needed to move a bit. So I took a walk among the crowd, taking the opportunity to photograph some interesting characters without being noticed ;) Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy!