Hamrun celebrates the feast of Saint Gaetan in early August (this year on 7th August) and on the feast day proper all of Hamrun and Hamrunizi who have long left town and settled in other places on the island appear to congregate in the town’s High Street (naturally closed to vehicular traffic for the day) for the much awaited band march which kicks off around 11 am and continues for some four hours – normally in temperatures which hover around the 30c mark. The town’s two rival bands participate and at times it appears more of a show of strength than anything else. The clubs’ supporters - young and old alike - turn out in droves, most with faces painted in red or blue according to affiliation, some wearing fancy costumes prepared for the big event. Most will carry large flags and a lot of dancing, drinking and general merriment will invariably take place.
The march starts off from near the church with the bands following each other along the same route – but at all times keeping a prudent distance from each other. A first awaited ‘highlight’ is when the ‘red’ St.Gaetan Band stops to play in front of the rival St. Joseph club’s premises – this is where the reds make fun of the blues with chanted taunts – made mostly in good humour and ‘received’ in very much the same way. Though police are invariably present to keep tabs on proceedings, the jeering remains very much good-natured - there is a gentlemen’s agreement between the two clubs which ensures things don’t get out of hand.
After the initial release of energy the bands follow each other through the back streets of the parish but soon enough return for a final run through High Street. This is where things come to a climax with the whole street turning into a sea of blue and red flags. The St. Joseph’s band stops in front of the rival St.Gaetan’s club where the former’s supporters return the dubious compliments of a couple of hours earlier and then both bands stay playing for a bit more in front of their respective clubs. The clubs are situated just a hundred metres apart along High Street so by this time the street is chockful with both bands’ followers – who naturally indulge in a final round of dancing, chanting and drinking.
The march comes to an end with a fireworks salute from both clubs which is a signal for the bands to return indoors for a well-deserved respite from the sun. The Hamrunizi mostly make their way to their homes to rest before the more solemn evening procession (bar the younger, more energetic ones who stay on for after-marc parties…), satisfied once more that their band march remains the grandest of the lot… an annual ritual of colour, madness, fun and sweat quite unlike any other on the islands.