Every year the St. Patrick’s Festival delivers two community outreach projects: City Fusion for the over 18s and Brighter Futures for the 12-18 age group. These projects celebrate diversity, embrace understanding and of course, add something fantastic to the festival parade!
Participants work together over the course of a few months to create two pageants and in the process learn some valuable skills in prop and costume making, circus, performance, music and dance.
This year there are three pageants in total: two as part of the City Fusion pageant and one as part of the Brighter Futures pageant. This means that along with everything else, three floats need to be made, which overall is a whole lot of work! In order for all of this hard work to be carried out, the groups need a nice space to work in!
Tucked away in a corner of Dublin 8 is the location where, as I type, magic is being made in Project HQ. This is the place where the preparation is done for the big day, where costumes are created and floats assembled, where rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal is carried out to perfect the spectacle that makes up part of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
We took a trip down to Project HQ last week to get an idea of what is going on, and let me tell you something, it’s a busy place!
On that particular morning there was a costume fitting for the lovely people from the St. John of God Menni Services group. While the seamstresses were busy pinning and sowing the vibrant red and white trousers for the pageant, participants were excitedly chatting about everything from what happened at last year’s parade to what is coming up in just over a month’s time. Choreographer Aisling Doyle was there ready to bring the group to the rehearsal room when the fitting was finished.
Upstairs we all went, and with the pumping music of ‘Gangham Style’ ringing around the hall, the group gathered in a circle to start their warm up. Arms were spinning, legs were lifted and a game of follow the leader even started! Throughout the time that I was there, there were nothing but smiling, happy faces, excited at what was to come, and if that was anything to go by, you’re all in for a treat on the 17th of March if it was anything to go by!
Outreach Programme Manager Karen Walshe had this to say: “Things are really ramping up in the City Fusion studio right now, we’re busy making the parade costumes, making the props and getting the groups for this year rehearsed and ready for their performance on the day. We’ve completed one of our floats but there is still plenty to do, so its heads down for the final 4 week countdown! Thanks to all the amazing staff & volunteers we’ll get there and everything will look stunning! Just wait until you see this year’s designs….”