Downpour ends on cue for St Pat's parade

Yesterday's rain stopped just before the annual St Patrick's Day parade started at the Singapore River.

SINGAPORE - The heavy downpour yesterday brought a cool start to the annual St Patrick's Day parade held at the Singapore River.

Togged in green outfits and clutching green balloons, more than 2,000 participants strolled from the Asian Civilisations Museum to Circular Road yesterday afternoon. They included a mix of Irish expatriates, Americans with Irish heritage, and locals.

Now in its 8th year, the parade was part of a bigger three-day street festival organised by Singapore River One. St Patrick's Day, Ireland's National Day, is celebrated by the Irish community all around the world and commemorates the life of Ireland's patron saint.

Local schools also joined in the festivities, with St Joseph's Institution's (SJI's) pipe band providing the tunes for the march. SJI International and St Patrick's School were also represented in the parade.

For the first time in Singapore, the Singapore chapter of the Harley Owners Group kicked off the parade, by arriving in a convoy of seven Harley Davidson motorcycles with a man dressed as St Patrick sitting on one of the bikes' back seat.

Parade goers were treated to a myriad of performances by Irish traditional dancers, as well as Irish folk and rock bands.

Irish dishes such as beef and Guinness pie and Irish stew, as well as pints of Guinness, were also sold at many bars and restaurants in the area.

It was the second time that Mr James Ho, 23, attended the parade. A fan of the parade's "light-hearted and festive mood", the National University of Singapore student said the rain had perfect timing, "stopping right before the parade to give us a very cool stroll".

Leading the parade was Mr Joe Hayes, the Irish ambassador to Singapore. "Today, as you can see, there are many Singaporeans joining us for the festival - it is as much for the Irish community as it is for all the people here in Singapore," said Mr Hayes.

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