Manchester Day procession pays tribute to bombing victims
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.”