Ballymena parades ‘set standards’ says Forum

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With Ballymena’s ‘big two’ flute bands holding their annual parades in recent weeks the Ballymena Bands Forum are quietly congratulating themselves on helping deliver a safer parade experience for participants and spectators.

During the annual Ballykeel and Pride of the Maine parades there were a combined total of 116 bands parading through the town. As no major incidents were reported it has helped set in stone Ballymena’s reputation as a family friendly area for band parades.

Having liaised closely with the PSNI in the lead-up to both parades, the Forum supplied its own marshalling team around the parade which allowed policing resources to be reduced and deployed elsewhere. Similar to previous years the police strictly enforced the on-street drinking laws and this was visible on both nights. Ballymena Bands Forum would like to thank the PSNI and the team of marshals who helped make both events a success for both of the host bands.

Following a restructuring of the long standing Parades Forum the Ballymena Bands Forum was established in 2013.

Bands in the area identified that there was a wider interest for bands than solely parading. Early meetings showed up a need for training and development of all members within each band. Age groups in the bands ranged from primary school age right through to 60 year olds.

Membership of the Ballymena Bands Forum now stands at ten bands from Ballymena, Kells, Ahoghill, Broughshane and Cullybackey. Working alongside members of the Carson Project the Forum has already started its training with courses in First Aid and Child Protection already completed.

In the next few weeks two more member bands will be holding parades when Lisnamurrican have their parade in Broughshane on Wednesday 18th June and Glenhugh hold their parade on Wednesday 9th July.

The month of August will also see another three member bands hosting their parades with Ahoghill Loyal Sons on Saturday 2nd , Craigywarren on Wednesday 20th and Kells Sons of William on Friday 29th August. The final parade of the year in the borough will be held by Cullybackey Maine Defenders on Saturday 6th September.

Ballymena Bands Forum would like to wish all member bands the very best for their event and the marshalling team will be present on each occasion to continue with the family friendly parading continuing to prosper in the Ballymena Borough.