Around 8,000 Apprentice Boys are expected to take part in this year’s ABOD Celebrations on Saturday.
Among the local Apprentices will be visitors from Scotland and England, and enjoying the spectacle of the occasion for the first time will be two new clubs: One is from Kent in the South of England and the other is a new Browning Club from Dundonald.
Both have been officially presented with their new Charter in the past year and get to parade as a branch club in their own right for the first time on Saturday.
This year 145 bands have been engaged to take part in the parade and up to 250 Apprentice Clubs are expected to put on an amazing display.
General Secretary of the Apprentice Boyd, Billy Moore, said: “We hope around 8,000 members of the Association will be on parade on Saturday. This is the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Association, so there will be individuals throughout the parade route in period costume to celebrate the anniversary.”
Prior to the main parade at 12.30pm the traditional pageant will take place at Carlisle Road at 12pm, when the Crimson Players will act out the Relief of Derry, the breaking of the boom and the arrival of the ships, Mountjoy and Phoenix.
Earlier in the morning at 9.30am, the ABOD Parent Clubs will parade in the town at 9.30am, followed at 10am with a wreath/floral tribute ceremony at the War Memorial, after which the Apprentices will move off for a religious service at St Columb’s Cathedral at 10.30am.
Commending the colour and pageant of the annual celebrations, Mr Moore encouraged traders and member so the public to enjoy the day: “We hope everyone has a peaceful and enjoyable day and we would encourage traders to remain open and hope they have a profitable day as well.”
Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin, G District commander, said the policing operation for the day would be visible but low-key: “We have held discussions with groups representing both traditions in the city and with the business community. The feedback we are getting is that everyone is keen to ensure that the day passes of peacefully and successfully.
“This city has developed a tradition of peaceful parades and that has come about through dialogue and understanding in many diverse quarters.
“The safety of all, whether they are participants, spectators or residents, is a key issue for us and has shaped the policing operation we have planned.
“In particular, we will have traffic controls in place at key times during the day. We are asking for the patience of all road users. Those who wish to travel through the city centre are advised to note the traffic arrangements in place and to seek alternative routes.”
He added: “It is important that people coming to the city are mindful of their actions and how they could affect others. It is my hope that everyone attending the event will show respect for others by refraining from any behaviour that may be considered offensive or a criminal offence.”