By Sharon Dolan D’Arcy
Athenry, which was the first town in Ireland to defy coronavirus by going online with its St. Patrick’s Day parade, certainly didn’t disappoint with its 2020 digital offering.
The digital parade attracted 40 parade entrants – as many participants as the local parade usually has. Virtual floats included acrobats, tin whistlers, guitarists, dogs, Lego parades, Irish dancers and an apt albeit cute rendition of, ‘You are my sunshine’.
Local organiser, Máire Daly told the Galway Pulse:
“I honestly hoped we’d have 20 videos but 40 was beyond our expectations… and the community and beyond (with entries from Cork, Waterford and Arklow) rose to the occasion”.
Organisers acknowledged that while viral themed videos aren’t new, to try and get a community co-ordinated into a digital St. Patrick’s Day parade was another matter entirely.
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To that end, they utilised a large social media platform like Facebook by leaving the privacy settings open for parade participants to post their home-grown videos. With the help of the local community council, they managed to pull it off.
The online figures were also proof of success. In the past 7 days, the ‘Athenry St Patrick’s Day Parade’ page on Facebook which has a reach of 10,000 people, saw a 165% increase in public engagement on the 2019 parade. The digital element meant that more people from near and afar could be involved, as evident from the figures.
Chair of Athenry Community Council, Shelly Herterich Quinn said they didn’t know if the online version would take off but that the “tremendous response” by contributors from all over the country demonstrated how willing people are to engage with online ideas.
In a statement, Athenry Community Council said:
“Thank you so much to everyone who took part in our first Athenry2020 Digital Parade. We are absolutely astounded with the amount of entries and good wishes we have received today. Community spirit is alive and well in Athenry.
“It is so hard to choose one entry above another, but please know that by taking part you have made what could have been a miserable day so much better”.
The joint prize winners were: Athenry Community Creche, Elaine Cunningham, The Swan Centre, Catriona Watters Crehan and Gliondar and Hope it Rains.