Although it’s famously a celebration of all things Irish, Toronto’s St. Patrick’s Parade also aims to be “one of the most diverse events in this city and in this country,” says Parade Society chair Shaun Ruddy.
“We include everybody. We include every sector of law enforcement. We’ve got public servants, we’ve got labour,” he said Friday during a pre-parade fundraiser at Toronto’s Steam Whistle Brewery.
“We’re not here to deny any groups. That’s not our thing.”
This year’s parade, which took place on Sunday, included an estimated 4,000 marchers, organizers said. It also featured traditional representation of every county in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Marchers and floats represented by other countries celebrated Irish culture in in their own way during the parade. Participants included those from Mexico, China, Ukraine and the Philippines.
“We are all together,” said Sgt. Derek O’Donoghue, an officer in Toronto’s Traffic Services. “We all play a part and we are all a part of this city. It’s great to see that our officers are out there.”
“We include anybody that wants to be coming out and celebrate Irish culture on St. Patrick’s Day or leading up to St. Patrick’s Day,” said Michael Gallagher, Grand Marshal of the 2019 parade.
“And in this way, you build bridges. We build bridges between communities. We believe in inclusion. So it’s very, very important.”
Gallagher is business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 793. He was given the title of Grand Marshal this year because of his ongoing support of Toronto’s Irish community.
Toronto’s St. Patrick’s Parade takes place yearly on the Sunday prior to St. Patrick’s Day.