Manch­ester Day pro­ces­sion pays trib­ute to bomb­ing vic­tims

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Frances Per­raudin North of Eng­land re­porter Daniel Crane, 33, in the annual pa­rade

In swel­ter­ing heat, around 100,000 peo­ple gath­ered yes­ter­day to watch the annual Manch­ester Day pa­rade, which had taken on a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance in the light of last month’s ter­ror at­tack on the city’s arena.

The 22,000-strong pro­ces­sion was fronted by 22 young peo­ple, each bear­ing a bal­loon rep­re­sent­ing one of the vic­tims of the bomb­ing. The group held a ban­ner read­ing “Manch­ester re­mem­bers 22.05.17” and were fol­lowed by mem­bers of the city’s emer­gency ser­vices, honouring their re­sponse to the at­tack.

“To­day feels very poignant, doesn’t it?” said Andy Burn­ham, mayor of Greater Manch­ester. “Peo­ple are still think­ing about the at­tack and just com­ing to terms with it re­ally and the enor­mity of it. But in the worst of times you see the best of peo­ple and we’ve cer­tainly seen what Greater Manch­ester is all about in the past month.”

The pa­rade fea­tured 80 com­mu­nity groups, rang­ing from the Manch­ester Chi­nese Cen­tre to the trans youth group Af­ter­noon Tea and the Greater Manch­ester fire and res­cue ser­vice. It was watched by the big­gest crowd in the event’s his­tory.

“It’s nice to see all the com­mu­ni­ties from around Manch­ester,” said Emily Don­levy, 21, a trainee tat­too artist from Bolton. She spent the days fol­low­ing the at­tack ink­ing the city’s bee sym­bol on to peo­ple to raise money for the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies. “This aw­ful thing has hap­pened – it was hor­ri­ble – but to­day has proved that it’s not go­ing to stop us from shar­ing the love and the pride that we have in our com­mu­nity.”

Anish Kurien from the Manch­ester Malay­alee As­so­ci­a­tion – a com­mu­nity group for peo­ple orig­i­nally from Ker­ala in south­ern In­dia – was pleased the coun­cil de­cided to go ahead with the day. “Af­ter re­cent events, we re­ally wanted to make a point that we are part of this com­mu­nity and just be­cause some crazy peo­ple do things, we don’t ap­prove of that,” he said.

Labour coun­cil­lor Pat Kar­ney, chair of Manch­ester Day, said there was never any ques­tion about whether the event would go ahead, but that there was in­creased se­cu­rity in the city cen­tre, partly in re­sponse to a Take That con­cert ar­ranged for yes­ter­day evening.

Armed po­lice could be seen pa­trolling the streets, with some pos­ing for self­ies with passers-by. Supt Steve Howard of the po­lice’s City of Manch­ester team said he hoped that the armed of­fi­cers would pro­vide a re­as­sur­ing pres­ence for peo­ple, as well as serv­ing to keep them safe.

Manch­ester Day was cre­ated in 2010 as a cel­e­bra­tion of all of the com­mu­ni­ties in the city. “We have the Pride pa­rade, we have the Ir­ish pa­rade, we have the St Ge­orge’s pa­rade, we have about 10 pa­rades ev­ery year,” said Kar­ney. “But this is the mother of all pa­rades. It’s the big­gest one we have.”

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