Montreal’s famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade is making its return after being cancelled for the last two years due to the pandemic.
The city’s Irish community will celebrate the annual festival on Sunday, March 20.
The Montreal United Irish Societies made the announcement on Monday.
“It only started looking really good in the past couple of weeks. So we have always planned for a small parade, which will mainly be Irish communities,” said Kevin Tracey of the United Irish Societies of Montreal.
Tracey says the timing was perfect as many COVID-19 restrictions are expected to be lifted across the province by March 14.
Yet, with a reduced time frame and lack of preparation, the event will be scaled down this year.
Organizers estimate there will be some 500 people, mostly from the Irish community. They will walk in the event, which is far less than the 3,000 parade goers that normally participate.
“The parade is going to be a little downsized or a lot downsized but at least we are putting something down the street,” Tracey said.
Parade floats — a fan favourite and staple of the annual event — will not be rolling down Ste-Catherine Street this year, according to Tracey.
The parade route will be slightly longer, stretching along Ste-Catherine Street from Lambert-Closse Street to Union Street. It will end in front of the Bay store.
Tracey says the goal of extending the route is to help disperse the crowds and give people ample room to space out.
“We’re trying to stretch out the parade to let more people socially distance. You have many street corners to watch the parade from,” Tracey said.
The 197th parade will also start earlier at 9:30 a.m. to bring a more family oriented atmosphere.
Parades outside of Montreal also going ahead
The Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade will also be holding Irish festivities.
“We’re going to have a flash walk-about with the Irish,” said Ken Doran, vice-president of fundraising for Soulanges Irish Society(SIS).
Doran says everyone is invited to walk about town and enjoy the Irish spirit with a sponsored pub tour.
“It’s basically a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day but also the arrival of spring,” Doran said.
“We’re going to get out there and show our true colours as they say.”
Waiting on the go-ahead from the government to ease COVID-19 restrictions, the Soulanges Irish Society says it will have limited security.
Doran says he does not expect to have the usual large crowds that can reach up to 25,000, but he does expect people are eager to get back to celebrate amongst the community.
“If we have a day that is under -10 C, most of the West Island will be in Hudson,” Doran said.
The City of Châteauguay and the Châteauguay Irish Héritage Association will be hosting its 17th annual parade on March 27. The parade on Montreal’s south shore will begin at 1 p.m. and walk down Youville Boulevard.