It hasn’t been easy lately for the Chateauguay and Valley Irish Society.
“It’s been a long two weeks,” says group president Michael McGinn.
Two things happened.
Last Saturday, cash they badly need to help fund their annual St. Patrick’s Day parade was allegedly stolen.
“We lost about $4,500 cash and about $1,000 in cheques,” McGinn tells Global News.
That was right after a fundraising event. The funds represent about a third of the total cost to run the parade, because not everyone is a volunteer. The bands, for example, have to be paid.
This year’s parade, McGinn says, is special. “We tried really hard to raise enough money to have a really nice size parade this year,” he says, “because it’s our 15th year.”
They were hoping to have 150 floats, 30 more than they usually have. Now they’re not sure.
“If we don’t get our money back, I’m not sure if we’ll have enough money to have a parade this year,” McGinn said.
Town Mayor Pierre-Paul Routhier says to not have the parade would be a blow to the community, because it’s one of the bigger parades in the town and it brings people together.
“There’s people coming from Monteral, from Kahnawake, there’s people coming from all around the place to participate in the parade. Not just to watch — to participate,” he stresses.
The other bit of bad luck for the Irish group struck just before the money went missing.
“Two weeks ago,” McGinn explains, “the building where we house our office was broken into.”
Doors to all the offices in the building were smashed and items stolen. Luckily McGinn’s group didn’t lose anything too substantial.
“A can of 7-Up and some ink cartridges for our printer,” he grins, detailing their losses.
Even so, it’s an inconvenience, because the office has been without a proper door.
But since the money went missing two other things have happened. The organization has been getting donations via an online fundraising effort and one local business has offered to host an event to raise cash.
“The Boulevard restaurant in Chateauguay since it happened has offered to have a spaghetti supper,” explained society member Shirley Deegan.
McGinn says he’s willing to drop the charges if the money is returned, but he’s not optimistic.