ON September 14 Downshire Guiding Star Flute Band held their annual band parade and competition in the band’s hometown of Banbridge.
The parade is one of the most eagerly anticipated parades of the season as well as being one of the biggest in the country!
The parade was kicked off in style by the host band along with a colour party of 137 flags following them to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the covenant.
The streets were lined with people who caught a glimpse of the magnificent sight of the band parading through the town with the colour party.
There was a short pause at the war memorial for the laying of a wreath in memory of Lance corporal Stephen McKee who was killed in Afghanistan and was a member of the band, the wreath itself being laid by Stephen’s two brothers who are members of the band.
The main parade itself consisted of 80 bands from all over Northern Ireland, from as far afield as Portrush and Magherafelt and also a vast majority of the local bands. Within the 80 bands there was a wide variety of bands for everyones pleasure from accordion bands such as Mullabrack accordion and Straffordstown accordion, to melody bands like Pride of Ballinaran, to the most popular “blood and thunder” bands like Killklunney Volunteers and South Belfast young conquers.
All in all over 2,200 people participated in the parade and once added to the thousands of people who come out to watch the parade it has become one of the biggest and most successful parades the band has ever held.
At the end of the night main winners were East Belfast Protestant boys who took the prizes across the board for “blood and thunder” with Pride of Ballinaran winning in the melody section and Burnswick Accordian take the best accordion prize.
The band would like to thank all those who helped in organising the event and also to the various food outlets and shops in the town who have to deal with the mass influx of people into town and we hope that they too had a successful and profitable night.
They also would like to extent a massive thank you to the people who attend the parade to watch as without them the parade would not be a success and hope that they enjoyed the family atmosphere that the parade produced with the special guest appearance of Mickey and Minne mouse who provided flags and sweets for the occasion.
The band say they try to make the parade for people of all ages, who line the streets every year, and are very proud to host the biggest annual event in Banbridge district.
The band is still recruiting members and is interested in teaching people of all ages and experience. The band will provide excellent teaching in both snare drums and flutes as well as providing instruments for free.
Band practice is on Tuesday nights (apart from the second Tuesday when it moves to the Wednesday) in Banbridge Orange Hall at 8pm.
For more information on joining the band you can contact through their facebook page or by speaking to a member of the band.