Luck of the Irish

A memory of a past St Pat’s Day parade before three years of unlucky cancellations, in one case just a day before.

AFTER an unlucky run of three cancelled festivals, Perth’s Irish community is gearing up to celebrate at the St Patrick’s Day festival and parade in Leederville today (Saturday March 18).

In 2020 the St Patrick’s Day festival was one of the first big public events to be cancelled just days after WA recorded its first person-to-person transmission of Covid-19. 

“We had a really good build-up to the 2020 festival, and we were good to go,” St Patrick’s Day Wa committee chair Olan Healy told the Voice.

“We had marquees up and ready to go.”

But the day before the festival, organisers met with representatives from their major sponsor Vincent council, and concluded it had to be called off. A day later premier Mark McGowan declared a state of emergency.

In early 2021 coronavirus had disappeared in WA and it looked like the festival could go ahead. But sporadic outbreaks and short lockdowns of varying strictness meant organisers had to cancel a month out.

“And in 2022 we cancelled it two weeks before,” Mr Healy recalls, as lingering restrictions on event numbers would’ve capped crowds at just 500.

“We weren’t allowed to have people on the street, we weren’t allowed to have the big parade, we had to shorten everything.”

The silver lining in the long wait is that they’re able to return in full force.

“And it’s great to have it back in full… it’s great to have it back the way it was.

“This year, thankfully, we had a clear run for the event. We’re over the moon. We haven’t had any obstacles, and we’re very excited… we’ve had a great response from the Irish community and the Australian community, and it’s all go.”

Vincent mayor Emma Cole said it’d been an unlucky run but the council was glad to back their return, saying in an announcement for the 2023 event: “We are very excited to welcome our community back to Leederville for this vibrant festival after a three year pause due to Covid-19.

“For many of us who have missed a return to the Emerald Isle to reconnect with family and friends, this day is very special and a chance to connect with the Irish community.

“It is an opportunity to embrace Irish traditions and culture and to enjoy time with family and friends.”

The parade kicks off March 18 at 10am coming from Newcastle Street and heading up Oxford Street to the festival grounds at Leederville Oval, for food, fun and tunes til 6pm.

There’ll be “loads of Guinness – reasonably priced as well, and we’ll have a huge kid’s zone,” Mr Healy says, adding that kid-friendly activities are a big focus this year as the festival welcomes many youngsters marking their first festival.

“There’s so many kids this year who’ll see the parade for the first time, because they weren’t born when the last one was on.”


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