Decision deferred on American band parade in Larne

Mid and East Antrim councillors have deferred a decision on hosting a parade in Larne by an American high school band.

The Clover High School Marching Band is proposing to visit Northern Ireland in March when 220 members are expected to make the trip.

Councillors were told at a meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee meeting last week the band has been in contact with the council and requested that during their visit, they include Larne within their itinerary.

It has been suggested the council could assist with a parade through Larne town centre to Inver Park for a performance “to give local people the opportunity to see the band perform”.

Emigrant statue at Curran Park.

Clover, in South Carolina, was officially twinned with Larne in 1997 with a formal Sister Cities linkage established in 2007 when a delegation from the American town visited east Antrim to finalise the agreement.

The borough’s link with Clover developed during the late 1990s and groups including Roddensvale School and Larne Harbour Accordion Band have been involved in exchange programmes while official delegations have also crossed the Atlantic in both directions.

Clover now boasts a Larne Elementary School and the Larne Building as well as a housing development called Irish Downs.

Great Opportunity

Commenting on the proposed visit by the Clover High School Marching Band, Larne Lough DUP Councillor Gregg McKeen, who was involved in twinning between Larne and Clover, said: “I think it would be a great opportunity for them to parade from Curran Park to Inver Park. This would be good to see.

"A school band of 220 young people through Larne would definitely be a sight to see finishing with a performance in Inver Park for all to come along.”

The Town of Clover’s website says: “Modern Larne is very proud of its American connections and is more than glad to put out the welcome mat to its cousins from across the pond.”

It also notes: “Memorial to the Emigrants, a statue featuring a family on their way to an emigrant ship about to set sail for America, is located in Curran Park.

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The statue commemorates Larne’s role as a port of emigration and is a reminder of the strong connection between Larne and the United States.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter