Twelfth Ballynahinch: Hundreds line streets for carnival of colour
Whether it was a tractor pulling a float bearing Orange Lodge flags of the world, a mobility scooter festooned with orange lilies or the bright turquoise 1960s Chrysler Imperial car, the marchers and bandsmen at the Twelfth parade in Ballynahinch were travelling in style.
‘King William' himself led the way on his famous white horse, its mane decorated with red, white and blue ribbons as it rode through the town — which hosted around 70 lodges and 40 bands.
Five districts — Comber, Saintfield, Lecale, Castlewellan, and Ballynahinch — were represented at the event, which was one of three in Northern Ireland to be afforded ‘flagship' status, receiving extra support to entice tourists and other first-time visitors.
Hundreds of people lined the route and the good weather provided the perfect backdrop for numerous garden parties hosted by residents whose homes fronted on to the parade route.
Enjoying the spectacle from picnic chairs perched on the bed of their Mitsubishi pick-up truck were a family of three who would only identify themselves as the “Ballynahinch Hillbillies”, who said that they had seen more people during the 2012 Twelfth than on any previous year thanks to their vantage point.
Ben the corgi, sporting a Union-flag bandana, was brought to the parade by his owners Nigel and Myra Rodgers from Portadown.
“He loves coming out with us, he comes to all the pipe band competitions as well,” said Nigel.
Also taking it in her stride on her first ever Twelfth was little Rebecca Hall, who is just eight months old.
Like Ben, wearing Union colours, this time on a hat, the child was close to nodding off despite all the excitement.
“She is very chilled, she isn't taking a bit of notice,” said her mother Helen.
A huge sea of people followed the marchers to the demonstration field at Woodlodge Park, where there was something of a carnival atmosphere, complete with fun-fair rides and a bouncy slide.
Guest speaker at the traditional religious service was Rev Alistair Smyth, deputy grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, joined on the platform by Sam Walker, deputy county grand master of Down.