Castlerea’s answer to Mardi Gras!

  It’s being billed as Castlerea’s answer to the Mardi Gras, and the carnival atmosphere is expected to be electric in Castlerea on the evening of August 1st as over 800 people in costume take to the street for the town’s largest ever parade.             All involved in this year’s festival will be on foot and in costume and you’ll be relieved to hear that there will be lots of humour, colour and fun, and not a truck in sight.             Pascal Fitzmaurice, a member of the committee which is organising the parade, told Roscommon People: ‘It will be the largest parade ever in Castlerea and the largest parade outside of Dublin this year. There will be lots of different costumes for young and old.’             Expect to see top names such as Barney and Postman Pat, as well as humorous floats, and outfits. Bouncing castles, the infamous Podge and Rodge and the less controversial Dora the Explorer will also be present.             The colour and sheer scale of this year’s event is made possible by the huge number of groups taking part – groups from Castlerea, Roscommon, Ballymoe as well as the world-famous Inishowen Carnival Group, one of the country’s top carnival groups who will bring their own brand of colour and excitement to the Castlerea event. Inishowen Carnival Group is the largest amateur group in Europe and is the lead group for the Liverpool 800 celebrations.             Another major name in the carnival world which will be present for the Castlerea event is Artistica from Kildare. This group will bring a huge number of costumes to the parade, adding greatly to the spectacle on offer. A very professional group, Artastica is currently busy doing promotional work for Gucci, among others.             County Sligo will be represented by a number of arts groups and some large inflatable floats, some of which will be 30 ft high and the full width of the street.             The parade takes place at 8 pm on August 1st, starting from Hell’s Kitchen. It promises to be a great spectacle, with no lorries and all participants being on foot and in costume.             While it will be a hugely colourful affair, running such a parade is also a very costly undertaking and Mr. Fitzmaurice estimates that this year’s parade will cost in the region of €20,000 to run. All of that money is collected from local sponsors, requiring a mammoth effort from all involved.             The festival which follows the parade includes pig racing on Thursday night, a fund-raising event by organisers of the parade which enables the festival to take place.               ‘Basically, it’s a great carnival night, with a real carnival atmosphere in Castlerea,’ said Mr. Fitzmaurice.