THE Dragon of Shandon is set to roam the streets of Cork for the 14th consecutive year on October 31 and founder William Frode de la Foret promises that the Samhain event will be "bigger and better than ever."
William, who is the Director of Cork Community Art Link, first established the project in a bid to showcase the artistic skills of various community groups.
It began as a platform for communities to reveal their creative talents, and that still remains the pervading ethos of the project today.
"Art is not just for galleries," William told.
The 36ft dragon, created by various groups annually, is the star feature in the Halloween parade.
This year, the event will kick off at 7pm and adopts a slightly new route.
It will begin as usual in Shandon Street, travelling down to North Main Street and along South Main Street before making its way to Tuckey Street and ending up on Grand Parade.
The phenomenal community engagement this year has seen 400 participants working together to make the event possible.
New groups this year include Cork Community Bikes, Youth Work Ireland Cork and The ACA Performing Arts who will be cheerleading at the event.
The ACA along with performers from Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance are set to put on a spectacular show on Grand Parade at approximately 8:15pm to close the Halloween parade.
Another new group this year was the CIAE (Creative Inclusion in Adult Education) which focuses on mapping EU policy and frameworks on artistic participation of people with disabilities, identifying good practices, looking at concrete obstacles, and gathering them in an online knowledge centre that is geared towards disabled as well as non-disabled users.
Project Manager of the Dragon of Shandon, Angela Newman commented: "It was great to have a European connection this year, which is something new for the project."
Thirty family groups also took part in creating this year’s dragon at various workshops over the course of the past three months.
"The project is all about inclusivity," William said. "We never close the door on anyone and always try to accommodate anyone who would like to participate
This year, there will be a big twist to the Dragon of Shandon as it will have a rider on its back.
"From humble beginnings in 2006 with very little resources, it’s fantastic to see how far the project has come," William said. "Every year the standard gets better.
"This year we have a full series of seven new puppets which are gigantic and very impressive to behold. We are hoping this year’s event will again draw a significant crowd."
The cobbled streets of Shandon lends itself well to a spooky Halloween atmosphere.
"It was the architecture, the narrow streets and the visible presence of the Lee at the foot of the area that first prompted me to begin the parade in Shandon," William said.
Artlink identifies their role in the story of the Dragon as to "enable, bring people together and ultimately inspire so that for one night people take to the streets in a creative celebration of Samhain - a time between times."
Cork Community Art Link is partly funded by Cork City Council, but the project engages in many fundraising events over the course of the year to make spectacular events like the Dragon of Shandon a possibility.
The organisation is still seeking float pushers for Thursday's parade.
If you are available from 5pm in Shandon on October, 31 and interested in participating, you can email your name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org