ON Wednesday, for the 13th year in a row, a dragon will stalk the streets of Shandon on Halloween night.
In an event that has grown from humble roots to be one of the most popular nights on Cork’s calendar, the work of hundreds of volunteers and dozens of community groups will result in a funfilled parade and visual extravaganza.
Project Manager Mars O’Reilly believes Cork is the perfect city to show off the tape sculpture dragon and her army of beasts, skeletons and other followers.
“Cork city lends itself very well to this. It is such a pretty, vintage, Victorian-looking city that the dragon fits in very well,” she said.
“It is going to look beautiful no matter where you are standing.”
Spectators can either follow the parade along the streets or wait at its destination.
“A lot of people like to come up to Shandon and see the whole spectacle,” Ms O’Reilly said.
“The dragon and all her beasts will be released at 7pm. They will go down Shandon Street which is a good spot to watch it from but if you don’t fancy taking on the hill, North Main Street and Northgate Bridge will be good spots to watch it from as well. And definitely on the Coal Quay, there will be a very good Sam Hamilton and William Frode de la Foret near O'Connell Place, Cork for the launch of the dragon of Shandon Samhain Parade in 2011. Picture Dan Linehan
The Dragon of Shandon parade in 2010. Picture: Thomas Gaffneybuzz, it is a nice flat area to see the floats go by.”
As with last year, organisers have planned a dramatic visual display to close out the parade on the Coal Quay.
“There is going to be a 13-minute long finale show,” Ms O’Reilly said.
“It is going to involve groups like the Coal Quay Shawlies, the dancing skeleton Troupe, Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance, PassePartout and Inferno will be doing a show as well and that will bring us right up to 9pm.”
She said that one of the most satisfying things to hear as an organiser is that the parade has changed the whole mood in the city on Halloween.
“It creates a fun and festive atmosphere, particularly in the northside and along Shandon Street,” she said.
“I’ve spoken to people who said years ago, before the dragon, people would nearly barricade the doors on Halloween night because there would be so much anti-social behaviour going on. Now with the dragon, grandparents are coming out on the streets with their grandkids and enjoying it as a big group.
“It is a little different to the Patrick’s Day parade because it is not barricaded. It is a lot more intimate and there is a fantastic mix of people on the street. Seeing grannies screaming and laughing, it really does unite people.”
She thanked everyone who helps, from volunteers and sponsors to the performers and the gardaí who help the parade go without a hitch.
“It is a very DIY, grassroots parade, we really do depend on the people power of Cork city to come in and build this,” she said.
“We really wouldn’t be able to do this without our valuable volunteers and the support of local businesses and the council.
“New people introduce themselves all the time, we have hundreds and hundreds of volunteers involved over many months, some short term and others for longer. We have volunteers who come in on schemes from other countries like France and Germany and lend a hand for a few weeks.
“The Gardaí make sure the parade goes safely and smoothly down the street and you can tell they really enjoy it and get in the spirit as well.”
It is hard for organisers to answer the question on how long preparation takes, because it is an ongoing process through the year, with some plans already forming for 2019. But first, an extravaganza on Wednesday night.