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St Patrick’s Day festivities to provide welcome boost to traders as thousands expected to descend upon town

Thursday, 16 March 2017

STRABANE is gearing up to welcome in the region of seven thousand visitors from all over the district as well as those from across the border this Friday to enjoy the annual St Patrick's Day parade.

This year's parade is centered around the theme of 'Forever Young' and there will be something for the whole family to enjoy with a 5K run in the morning and the main parade leaving St Mary's Church on the Melmount Road at 2pm. Entertainment including live music, face painting and much more will be going on in the Alley Theatre throughout the day also.

Chairman of Strabane Chamber of Commerce, Colm Gallagher, forecasts that the upcoming celebrations will be great boost to local business especially restaurants, pubs, smaller shops and newsagents.

"It's good as far as publicans are concerned and for people getting to know what's in the town," Mr Gallagher said. "The smaller shops will get sales and newsagents will get trade for hot food with people coming and going.

"We'll have so many visitors and it's a great day to show off Strabane, it's great to see visitors and to see the town packed with people."

However, Mr Gallagher feels as though the larger retail stores could be making more of the increase in visitors to the town.

"It's a great day for restaurants and bars but are the retailers making the best of it?" He continued. "There's going to be six or seven thousand people in the town so why do they close? Restaurants and pubs do be busy as the day goes through, it's a big day for them but retailers need to have a look as to why they are closing because not everyone goes home after the parade."

Not only does the local celebrations attract people from the surrounding areas, it also draws a large crowd from across the border, which Mr Gallagher feels will further boost the town's business.

"A lot of people come across the border," he added. "We're the biggest parade locally in the Finn Valley area so apart from Donegal town, we're the biggest draw for southerners to come across."

Encouraging everyone to come to the town to enjoy the spectacle of festivities, Mr Gallagher said: "It's a family fun day, it's very relaxed and it's a very entertaining day for all ages. There's something for everyone so I would encourage everyone to come in and soak up the atmosphere and come and see what's in the town and hopefully the weather will be nice as well."

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