Some 11,000 people turned out to enjoy the Twelfth celebrations in the city of Lisburn, and the day was deemed to have been “an excellent advertisement” for the order.
It was the first time the city had hosted the celebrations in seven years, as it rotates around the seven districts annually.
Over 70 individual lodges and 50 bands were led by the Lisburn brethren yesterday, followed by Magheragall, Ballinderry, Derriaghy, Hillsborough, Aghalee and Glenavy districts.
Lagan Valley has special significance on the Twelfth, given that the heroic figure of King William, who features so centrally in Orange imagery, visited Lisburn Castle and inspected troops at Blaris Moor, before stopping at Hillsborough, en route to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
District Secretary Jonathan Beattie said: “It was nice to hold the Twelfth in Lisburn city centre once again.
“An estimated 6,000 people took part in the parade with some 5,000 spectators lining out to enjoy the spectacle throughout the route.”
The parade was led by several Orangemen wearing replica military uniforms from the Battle of the Somme, to mark the centenary of the event.
Many Orangemen wore period civilian dress to mark the centenary.
“Three lodges wore flat caps and civilian period dress with the old-fashioned sash down one shoulder,” said Mr Beattie.
They had ordered the sashes a year ago in preparation for the event, such was the depth of respect and reverence for the centenary of the battle.
One local figure who featured prominently in the parade was former Stormont minister, DUP MLA Edwin Poots.
He said: “Overall it was a great parade, a great crowd watching, great weather and a great field.”
As usual, there were visitors from several Scottish lodges.
But Mr Beattie’s lodge also welcomed a number of French tourists who drank in the pageantry of the event – perhaps not so dissimilar to their own Bastille Day which takes place on July 14.
Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789 by angry Parisian crowds. This seismic act demonstrated that ordinary people would no longer accept the absolute power of the French king and signalled the start of the French Revolution which led to the creation of the modern French republic.
Like the Twelfth, celebrations for the national event sees Paris virtually close down for the day, with the French military parading through the capital in front of countless spectators.
Mr Beattie said: “They did not speak much English but they arrived at our lodge in the morning asking lots of questions. Then they went around the block a few times taking pictures.”
He added: “Overall it was an excellent day and a great advertisement for us.”
The local PSNI also entered into the spirit of the celebrations, posting a photograph on Facebook of two parade-watching children who had borrowed officers’ hats for the snap.
“A big thank you to our two little helpers on Longstone Street, helping keep people safe during the parade,” the PSNI said. “Thanks Devan and Karlie Kinkaid.”
Mr Beattie said they were grateful that although conditions varied from cloudy to sunny throughout the day, there was only a “wee skiff” of rain in the field itself.
“Overall it was a great day and a great advertisement for the order,” he said.
The event began at about 11.30am, with the parade commencing from the assembly point of Wallace Park. It then proceeded through the city via Magheralave Road and Knockmore Road to the demonstration point at Ballymacoss Playing Fields. The return parade left around 4.15pm.