Portaferry summer float parade to stay on Friday evenings

Portaferry summer float parade to stay on Friday evenings

11 April 2018

IT’S a case of as you were with the Portaferry Gala float parade, which has moved back to its traditional Friday night slot.

The float parade had been moved to a Saturday afternoon date earlier this year, which had caused some controversy in the seaside town. 

However, this week organisers voted to put the parade, now in its 50th year and attracting thousands to Portaferry, back to Friday evening.

The previous gala committee had said a Saturday slot would result in an extended programme of events on the day, helping to increase tourism, while staggering the influx of people to avoid congestion.

An earlier finish time would also help to avoid “late night incidents” as volunteers cleaned the Square, they argued. Meanwhile, opponents had expressed concern about the impact to local businesses on a Saturday.

It appears that pub owners, who supply the floats, were behind the initial move to Friday, as well as the subsequent move back to Saturday this week.

The vote for Friday was cast following an extraordinary general meeting last Wednesday after a new board of directors was voted in to take on the running of Portaferry Gala Festival.

A statement on the gala website on Saturday explained the rescheduling decision.

“As people are now aware, the bar owners, whose pubs provide the float attractions for the Portaferry Gala float parade, approached the Gala Committee about moving the Floats to Saturday afternoon,” the statement read.

“This request was submitted towards the end of last year at the Gala AGM. As a new committee was only being elected, they requested more information and time to discuss the matter.

“The new committee was again approached in January of this year, with the same proposal. The committee listened to the reasons for the change, discussions took place on the pros and cons of the move, but as the pub owners were determined to move to Saturday, the committee voted to go along with the request and support it.

“However, following the EGM on Wednesday, April 4, representation was made, on behalf of the same owners, to move the Float Parade back to Friday night. 

“The new directors voted to go along with this request, and so Float Night 2018 will now take place on Friday July 20, 2018.

“We apologise to those who may have booked leave or accommodation, based on the published day of Saturday, but as the pubs do supply the floats, there was little the directors of the Portaferry Gala Festival could do. The alternative would have been to cancel the event altogether.”

A note on the gala website indicated over 70 people attended the EGM, and thanked them and the outgoing directors.

“The new directors would like to sincerely thank all outgoing officers for their dedication to Gala and for all their hard work over the 50th festival week,” the statement added.

Portaferry councillor Joe Boyle, previously said he didn’t mind whether the float parade was on the Friday evening or the Saturday. Speaking this week, he said his opinion remained the same.

“I am still easy either way,” he said. “Saturday was experimental and it’s not wrong to experiment.

“The bar trade put the floats on so they do have to be listened to and their views respected.

“The main thing is that the Portaferry Gala float parade is running. It’s been on the go for 50 years and once more many people are going to enjoy this wonderful occasion.”