Twelfth 2017: Tourists join vast crowds to get slice of atmosphere
The huge crowds that lined the route of the parade in Coleraine have been described as 'tremendous' and 'unbelievable'.
Boosted by an influx of holidaymakers from the nearby seaside towns of Portstewart and Portrush, perhaps as many as 50,000 people enjoyed the carnival atmosphere in the Co Londonderry town.
Particularly heartening for the future of the Orange Order in Co Londonderry was the number of young people and children who had turned up to enjoy the day. Secretary of the host district, Macosquin, Jeffrey Sterling, told the News Letter: “The atmosphere in Coleraine today was just outstanding.
“It was a truly tremendous day – the heat, the weather, the crowds, everything.
“I don’t know how many [were here] – there could have been 50,000 people in Coleraine today. The streets were lined with people six and seven deep.”
Over 3,000 Orangemen representing upwards of 60 lodges took part in the Twelfth in Coleraine.
Macosquin brought the parade to the town for the second time in three years .
As is traditional, members of Macosquin District were joined by brethren from Coleraine, the city of Londonderry, the town of Limavady, and from Co Donegal.
Over 50 bands helped add to the carnival atmosphere.
Mr Sterling said: “Our own demonstration today was very family friendly, lots of young people, lots of young children were there.
“It was for that reason we brought in a sort of a children’s entertainment area in the field. We had bouncy castles, we had rides, we had those sorts of entertaining things for the children.”
He continued: “Looking across towards them from the platform, that area seemed to be really buzzing with children which was tremendous to see.
“People stayed in the field today because of the atmosphere.”
The host District Secretary said the involvement of so many young people was particularly heartening.
He said: “To me, that’s what it’s all about. Of course we have our culture and our history and we know who we are but if we don’t incorporate our young people within our events that we hold, then our culture is a dying cause.”
He continued: “It is so important that we can attract young people coming up behind us.
“Whether it be when we are holding our demonstrations or whether it be at other events, we need to encourage our young people to come along. It is only by encouraging them and inviting them to become part of our institution that it will sustain itself for the forseeable future.”
He added: “I was delighted to see so many of those young people coming along to the Twelfth of July celebrations.
“It was a truly tremendous day and I have to say I am pleased with how everything turned out.”
On parade was a new bannerette honouring Orangemen from Co Londonderry who were murdered during the Troubles.
Dungiven LOL 2036 also carried their new banner.
It was a notable occasion for Bellarena Faith Defenders LOL 984 and Bellarena Accordion Band, who each celebrate their 70th anniversary this year.
The Twelfth parade had also taken place following the opening of a new Orange heritage centre in nearby Limavady, documenting the history – and showcasing artefacts – of the institution in the local area.
At the field, the religious service began at 2.30pm.
The address was delivered by Rev John Noble, a grand chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
The main speaker was Samuel Calvin, deputy county grand master of Co Londonderry.
Mr Sterling said: “We celebrated the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther and everything that took place, on the platform for our religious service today.”
He declared himself pleased with how the day turned out, saying: “To see such a tremendous crowd of people in Coleraine was just unbelievable. I am very pleased with everything.”