Preparations well under way for Lord Mayor's Parade

Mary HamiltonBaton twirlers, drama groups, truckers and Star Wars fans will be parading atop fantastic floats in the Lord Mayor's Procession next month.Mary Hamilton

Baton twirlers, drama groups, truckers and Star Wars fans will be parading atop fantastic floats in the Lord Mayor's Procession next month.

The deadline to submit a float for the parade is fast approaching, and about 2,000 people are expected to take part in this year's carnival extravaganza through the centre of Norwich.

A host of city groups have already signed up, including Open Youth Centre in Norwich, the Wild Stallion Dance Ranch in Thorpe St Andrew, Angel Road junior school and others from charities and schools to fan clubs and drama groups.

The East Norfolk Militia will be marching the route in re-enactment costumes, and floats themed around Cinderella, Star Wars and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory are all on the list for the procession.


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The 222 Battalion Squadron air cadets will be celebrating their 25th anniversary with a float at the event, along with the East Coast Truckers, who work to brighten the lives of children with special needs.

They will be among a huge variety of floats and walking exhibits who will brighten the streets of Norwich on July 10 as they parade around the Castle, and more than 30,000 people are expected to line the procession route to see them pass by.

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City council events manager Helen Selleck said: 'It's great fun - it's a brilliant party for the whole city.

'Everyone who takes part says it is good to work with people to create something that is completely different and new.

'And it does everyone good to celebrate and party and really enjoy Norwich with a carnival atmosphere.'

The Lord Mayor's procession has roots going back about 350 years to medieval times, when civic pageants would be held through the city centre.

Its modern form retains some of the medieval elements, including Norwich's traditional dragon mascot and a celebratory fireworks display at the Castle after the parade.

'We have been doing this for hundreds of years and it keeps getting better,' said Ms Selleck. 'The modern procession is essentially a carnival.

'It's all about creating costumes and making attractive floats - we put on our finery and parade through the streets.

'It gets the whole city community mixing together and celebrating the things that make Norwich special and its unique culture. We do ask people to create something exciting for the procession, not just an A-board advertising a business or something that people won't enjoy watching.

'It's also important that whatever people make can move at about one mile per hour, as the procession goes very slowly and motorbikes or classic cars can overheat.

'A lot of groups walk now, but we do have some wild and wonderful designs every year.

'There is no theme, because we want everyone to have the opportunity to create something really unique and to have some fun at the same time.'

For more information or to request an application pack call Lewis Cook on 01603 212136 or email events@norwich.gov.uk. The deadline for applications is June 18.

The history of the Lord Mayor's procession

The Lord Mayor's procession has a history going back more than 200 years, with one procession held on Guild Day in 1780 with a banquet at the Assembly Rooms for the mayoral party and concerts, illuminations and fireworks for the less privileged.

Snap the Dragon was a central feature of medieval pageants in the city, breathing fire thanks to gunpowder tricks and originally being slayed by St George before becoming a more friendly dragon, leading the processions to clear the way through the city.

In 1821 to celebrate the coronation of King George IV, mayor William Rackham processed from the Guildhall to the Cathedtral with Waterloo veterans and troops.

A roast bull weighing 60st, 2,880 penny loaves and barrels of beer were served up in the marketplace, with a bonfire and fireworks.

After the 1835 Municipal Corporation Reform Act was passed, much of the pageantry of traditional Guild Day celebrations was ended, and the 1887 jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria were more of a festi-val than a procession, with 11,000 children singing in the marketplace and fireworks in the evening.

In 1937 to celebrate King George VI's coronation there was a decorated procession including Snap the dragon, medieval Whifflers, commercial floats, Norwich's oldest woman Mrs Dunthorne aged 102, and exhibits by the Royal Norfolk regiment, nurses, lifeboat crews and a cross-section of Norfolk society.

In 1951 for the Festival of Britain there were three mile-long processions over a week. They were led by the Lord Mayor Eric Hinde, Snap the Dragon and the Whifflers, and featured tableaux of events and personalities in the history of Norwich including Boudicca, Amelia Opie and Elizabeth Fry.

In 1971 a proposal was put forward for the creation of 'A Grand Norwich Festival' by Harry Boreham, who was working for Eastern Counties Newspapers at the time.

By the following year the proposal had developed into a Norwich Week, with a procession led by the Lord Mayor as the high point.

Snap the Dragon was adopted as the festival mascot, and in 1976 the Snap 76 festival took place, with Lord Mayor Raymond Frostick leading the procession of more than 40 floats by youth groups, the post office, and a total of six dragons. The procession, themed around Norwich Through The Ages, marked the achievements of the city and was so successful that plans for a procession every two years were changed to a yearly event.

This year's celebration will mark the 34th modern celebration since the festival was revived, and will feature four days of public events.

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