Naas gets set for this Sunday’s Easter Parade

The flags are in place, the stage at the Courthouse is nearly set and the kids are on their Easter holidays. The eggcitment in Naas papable.

The flags are in place, the stage at the Courthouse is nearly set and the kids are on their Easter holidays. The eggcitment in Naas papable.

Yes it’s that time of year again, the loveable Naas Easter Parade is back, set for 8 April, 2.45pm.

The parade is one of Kildare’s biggest annual events, each year thousands of people view the parade proving its widespread appeal. This is the 20th year of the community event. The original parade, first established in the late 1970s, was a St Patrick’s Day parade, but one year because of heavy snow it was postponed until Easter and a new tradition was born which continued until 1987.

A few years later Willie Callaghan revived the parade which had been started by his late father and thanks to a phenomenal response it has continued, growing from strength to strength.

Speaking to the Leader, organiser Cllr Callaghan, who is also Mayor of Naas, explains: “It’s been handed down through the Callaghans from generation to generation. It’s a lot of work but it’s a great buzz to see the community groups, local businesses and children enjoying it.

“The Easter Parade is very important for the times we are in, it gives families and kids of all ages a free day out. Everybody enjoys it. It gives a great buzz around the town, which is badly needed, great light entertainment for all.”

This year, rather than have a theme for the parade, the organisers want all participants in the parade to use their own creativity.

“This year the theme is there is no theme. We did not want to confine people to a theme as it might prove costly so anything goes,” says Willie.

The parade will have four pipe bands, military vehicles, vintage cars, fire brigades and lots of local clubs and community groups. Also international visitors from Germany and Wales, the Mayor of Dillingen and the Mayor of St Davids, will be in attendance, along with most of Naas!

Dance routines, novelty displays and musical selections are planned. Judging is a tough task, but organiser Willie is more than confident of the panel. “There are three judges each year and all have a background in music or theatre so they are fully qualified in what to look out for. And they are independent of course.”

Performers have been asked to arrive at the assembly point on the Blessington Road at 1.15pm sharp and as always the starting position in the parade will not affect the chances of a possible prize.

Performers and floats will be judged at the assembly point, and the winners will be announced at the viewing stand at the Courthouse.

Word on the ground is that competition in Naas is mighty, with the final touches of costume sowing, sweet collection, Easter Bunny sourcing and facepainting frantically under way.

The prize ceremony will take place in the Osprey Hotel & Spa after the parade is finished. As always the Naas Easter Parade Perpetual Cup is top prize. All participants and families are invited to the ceremony, along with facepainters and magicians. Come hail, ran or snow the parade will still go ahead. “So long as it’s dry that’s the main thing,” Willie says. It being Ireland, it is advisable for everyone participating in the parade to wear warm clothes and if possible bring a raincoat with you.

“We owe a huge debt of thanks to the town council staff and officials for all their help and support, also to JF Dunne Insurances,” adds Willie. He also asks that parents be careful of their children.

“Everyone gets excited. But there are a lot of floats and vehicles so we would ask parents to make sure children are safe, behind the barriers and obey the stewards at all times.”

So while you may have seen St Patrick’s Day parades around the country come to Naas this Easter to see the best parade! Let the fun and games begin, Hoppy Easter!

- Lisa Deeney