For more than 145 years, the Benevolent Irish Society has hosted the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Charlottetown, but not this year.
The executive committee has made the decision to call off this year’s parade.
Gene Dowling, grand marshal of the parade last year said he was preparing this year’s parade when he received the news that it might not take place this year.
“I was caught off guard, there was no talk of not having it this year,” he said. “I had arranged for a police escort and I had booked a band.”
Dowling said the parade would have marched on the actual St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, instead of the usual Sunday before St. Paddy’s Day.
BIS president George O’Connor said they had planned to review the parade earlier this year.
“We felt it was time to see if there were any changes that could be made,” O’ Connor said, “We hoped to have it done, but we’ve been busy with renovations and just never got around to it.”
This would have been Dowling’s third year as parade marshal after taking it over from his father Leo.
“Both of my grandfathers took part in the parade and my father was the former parade marshal,” he said, “This would have been his 70th year in the parade.”
O’Connor gave assurances the review will be done before next year’s parade.
“We’re going to establish a committee in the near future to review the process and we’re going to come back bigger and better next year.”
Dowling still doesn’t understand why it couldn’t have happened.
“I’m disappointed. It’s been a tradition for my family.”
Other St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are set to go forward as planned, with Irish-themed pubs — the Olde Dublin Pub and the Old Triangle — planning a full day of entertainment Sunday.
Other bars will be open earlier Sunday, with entertainment all day, special foods and, of course, green beer.