Lord Mayor’s Procession ready to hit the streets of Norwich

Over the years, Norwichs streets have been filled with colourful floats, bands, dancers and acrobats

Over the years, Norwichs streets have been filled with colourful floats, bands, dancers and acrobats. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2007

Pirates, dancing gorillas, medieval rebels, boxers, dancers and acrobats. Where else but the Lord Mayor's Procession would you find this collection of characters?

Over the years, Norwichs streets have been filled with colourful floats, bands, dancers and acrobats

Over the years, Norwichs streets have been filled with colourful floats, bands, dancers and acrobats. Picture: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Busy hands have been working behind the scenes for months ahead of the crowning event of the weekend, with local organisations competing to dazzle the crowds this afternoon.

The parade will be led by the winners in 2015 – Lakenham Primary School – with hundreds of pupils, staff and parents bearing animal puppets to tell an Aboriginal creation myth.

Oriana Dalton, headteacher at Lakenham Primary School, said the project is a 'celebration of learning'.

'We want children to learn not just about the creation myth but about all the different animals, and they get a chance to do that when making the puppets,' she added.

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'This is supposed to be one of the things on your bucket list if you live in Norwich. It is such an important event and I don't think you can put into words how important it is for the children to be part of a much bigger event to celebrate their community.'

The history of the procession dates back to medieval times when it used to be a celebration of the St George's feast day and the latest incarnation started in 1977.

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Since then many businesses have made regular appearances, but ABC Taxis has looked to get involved in the community more over the last few years.

Today it will revive its circus act from 2013, including a strongman and bearded ladies.

Chris Harvey, marketing manager at ABC Taxis, said: 'Really this is just about giving back to the community on our part. It is a really good way of bringing the company out into the community and mix with the people we drive in a different environment.

'Out of our 150 drivers and about 30 staff we will have between 25 and 35 people on the float, which will be a mixture of staff and their families.

'It is just a good day out and a great way of bonding with people you might not necessarily see otherwise.

'I think it is a really important event because it enables Norwich as a whole to have a lot of events going on at the same time, and bring a lot of business into the city.'

Other floats involved today include Lakenham Hewett Rugby Club turning Humpty Dumpty, Catton Grove Primary School with African animals from the Lion King along with dancing African Masai warriors, and a nod to Shakespeare from Greasepaint Academy.

Two pirate ships from InTouch systems and Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue are far enough apart not to prompt naval warfare, and the Rio Olympics will be a prominent theme with samba bands and dance troupes.

Viewing for disabled people is on Castle Meadow, opposite Opie Street.

Resurgence in support

Organisers have said they are delighted with a resurgence in support for the parade after numbers had taken a concerning downward turn in recent years.

With 70 schools, businesses and organisations devoting hours to their projects, the number and variety of floats has matched a record set in 2015.

After the numbers began to drop, last year the Evening News launched a campaign to boost participation, as entries had fallen from 80 to below 60.

Now, Helen Selleck, culture and events manager at Norwich City Council, says interest in the event has been rising with bigger and more ambitious entries from local groups.

'What we found over the last few years is the procession is now growing again; it is all going in the right direction and we are getting new groups sign up every year,' she said.

'We are finding some of the groups are putting together really big, fun and exciting floats, like collaborations of schools.'

She added that the draw of the procession is the local community feel, with organisations from across the city coming together. This year the city council has also been helping the lead float develop with specially organised workshops.

'This is on your doorstep, it is about your community, and the motivation in the procession is just brilliant,' she said. 'All these people coming together to celebrate our city creates a fantastic vibe that a lot of people want to get involved in.

'This year we are quite excited that we have supported the group at the front of the procession – Lakenham Primary School – with some workshops to develop the music side to their float.'

The procession starts at 5pm. Crowds will line the route which starts at Newmarket Road before ending up on Castle Meadow and ending in Tombland. See Monday's paper • Look out for our 28-page preview of the celebrations in Saturday's Evening News and a 12-page souvenir supplement in Monday's Evening News brought to you in association with Potters Resort

• Tweet us your photos and videos from the weekend using the hashtag #LMC16

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