“As much as our parade celebrates Ireland, it celebrates the diversity that makes Toronto great. I love seeing Torontonians of all ages and backgrounds come together and enjoy Irish culture. It’s a great St. Patrick’s Day tradition in the city,” said Alan Louthe, chairman of the St. Patrick’s Parade Society.
This year’s Grand Marshals were Sid Ryan, past president of the Ontario Federation of Labour who is originally from Dublin and Pat Sheridan, an executive board member with LIUNA Local 183, who is from Ardee in County Louth.
Many of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, the rebellion that 100 years ago helped leads to Irish independence were labour leaders.
“This choice (of Ryan and Sheridan) has been 100 years in the making and well deserved by two of Canada’s well known and respected labour leaders,” Louthe said.
Spectators are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for the Daily Bread Food Bank. This year’s parade will feature bands, floats and the Sk8 St. Patrick’s Crew, a procession of long boarders promoting their skateboarding sport.
New this year is the Ginger March, where red heads from across the GTA have marched along the St. Patrick’s float for the finale.
“Red hair occurs naturally in only one to two per cent of the population. This is a chance for those who have won the genetic lottery to come together and celebrate,” Shaun Ruddy of the Ginger March said, adding a dye job or wig is also welcome.
The parade started at noon from Bloor St. and St. George St. and traveled west to Yonge St. before heading south on Yonge to Queen St. and then heading west to finish at Nathan Phillips Square. The two-hour parade had road closures along the route and on some secondary roads starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m. TTC service on Queen St. was disrupted during the parade.
Another St. Patrick’s related road closure:
Prior to the Parade there was the St. Patrick’s Day 5km Run/Walk which started from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and caused road closures. The race started at Bremner Blvd. and Rees St. and traveled westbound to Spadina Ave. where it head north using the northbound curb lane. At Clarence Square the run headed east to Wellington St., using the two southside lanes. At Yonge St. runners turned around and head west on Wellington back to Clarence Square and the southbound on Spadina using the northbound curb lanes and finishing back at Bremner and Rees.
The run raises money for a variety of charities.