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The Twelfth in Toronto.
HERE and gone once again. The Twelfth of July celebrations this year in Toronto were celebrated in a much more meaningful way. On hand to add colour and traditional music was the Shankill Road Defenders Flute Band.
The number of spectators was up considerably over previous years and even our own bands rehearsed a little more so as to please the visiting band.
In Toronto we have a spirit of Orange culture which is very close and well knit together. Several bands get together a month before the parade and rehearse and decide if they can make enough numbers to warrant going on the road. Many of these bands are good old- fashioned Blood and Thunder types. The Shankill on the other hand are more of a musical melody band with various players playing the parts.
Well the day started early for many members of the Brampton lodge. Six am breakfast was started and at eight am a meeting to renew our vows and pledge a good day began. Boarding buses with the band for the one hour ride downtown for an eleven am parade start up time. Just in time for the band to realise the SUN was coming up. (Around 28 degrees!)
Well off we started. The Sash being the first tune out of the gate, the Brampton lodge had a great turnout with members and guests numbering 75 on parade. (It was the largest lodge).
The music, the colours (mostly Orange or Red, White and Blue) transformed Toronto streets once again into a British flavoured procession. We even had an Ulster visitor bring over her Union Jack dress to display to the passers by. A really good festival atmosphere existed although the boys from the Shankill realised that the "Whistle" was blowing dry due to the heat. Water reinforcements were on hand to save the day and the lads finished the parade in rare style.
A gala reception and march by was duly arranged in a nearby hockey arena where all bands had the pleasure of entertaining hundreds of spectators who had gathered for a refreshment or two. The Mayor of Lisburn, along with the former Mayor of Lisburn were on hand at the platform and various resolutions were read out and adopted by the supporters present.
Overall the parade was a success and the visiting band certainly gave the parade a new spark. Celebrations continued for several hours before members went their separate ways to continue celebrating at various venues.
The Shankill boys went back to Brampton to get ready for a Grand Orange Ball and Gala event held in honour of their visit. This event sold out early with 400 tickets and probably could have sold another two hundred once the news got out that the band was in town.
As always with our association, the news is the slowest item to get moving. Perhaps next year, if a visiting band decides to come we can notify the communities sooner.
Next Saturday we will be at an out of town parade in a nearby small town - keeping the tradition alive for another year.
No Surrender - Keep the Faith - Enjoy the Twelfth!
William Thompson, Canada.
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