Canadian lodge helps give Belfast parade a truly international feel
Published 13/07/2007 | 07:41
The streets of Belfast were awash in a sea of red, white and blue yesterday as thousands of people turned out to mark the annual Twelfth celebrations.
Despite the showers which persisted throughout the day, bands and lodges from the city's 10 districts were cheered on every step of the route by onlookers.
Some spectators ensured they had a prime view of the parade by arriving early and setting up deckchairs on the pavement while others waved flags.
After a wreath was laid at Belfast City Hall, Orangemen, band members and supporters braved the rain to march to the field at Barnett's Demesne.
A total of 134 lodges - including two from Scotland and one from Canada - took part in this year's event which also featured 69 bands and two floats.
Cartoon characters gave away sweets to the youngsters lining the route with their families while 317 orange and purple balloons, to signify the 317th anniversary of the Battle of Boyne, were released from King William's Park ahead of the procession reaching the field.
At 12.30pm and to the cheers of onlookers, the procession arrived at the field led by the Millar Memorial Band playing 'No Surrender.'
French photojournalist Olivier Martel was invited to the Twelfth celebrations by the Belfast Visitors Convention Centre and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Speaking from the field yesterday, he said: "I was in Belfast about 25 years ago when I was working for a French TV company but I thought it was the right time to come back and see how things of changed now that their is peace between Protestants and Catholics.
"I plan to take pictures of those taking part in the event and I've also been round taking pictures of murals.
"There's a great difference in Belfast now than there was 25 years ago. There is so much more wealth and people are much more relaxed now," Olivier added.
Despite thousands of lodge and band members taking part in the event, the demonstration field was plagued by underage drinkers.
Maggie Stewart (45), who travels from Scotland every year to join in the 12th celebrations, said: "It's been a great day so far, apart from the rain, and I just wouldn't miss coming to Belfast for the glorious Twelfth.
"But there are an awful lot of drunken wee lassies running around and it's not very nice to see the state some of them are in."