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The Lord Mayor’s Parade returns to continue a much-loved tradition

PUBLISHED: 08:00 07 July 2018 | UPDATED: 08:23 07 July 2018

Elephants from Barnum's Circus parading up Gaol Hill, in Norwich, in 1898. Photo: Norwich Record Office

Elephants from Barnum's Circus parading up Gaol Hill, in Norwich, in 1898. Photo: Norwich Record Office

Norwich Record Office

The Lord Mayor’s Procession returns this Saturday to continue a tradition going back to the 15th century.

The Lord Mayor's Procession winding through the streets of Norwich. Picture: Ian BurtThe Lord Mayor's Procession winding through the streets of Norwich. Picture: Ian Burt

This year’s theme is Circus 250 - and there is no shortage of big-top style entertainment available.

Businesses, charities, community groups and schools have put on 64 fabulous floats reflecting the theme that will process through the streets of Norwich at 6pm from St Stephens Road to Palace Street.

This is one hour later than originally scheduled, due to England’s World Cup match. The 5K Road Race immediately before the procession will start at 5.45pm.

The potential highlight of this year’s parade is the five life-sized elephant puppets, which recreated P.T. Barnum’s memorable parade of live elephants in 1898 on Friday.

The Lord Mayor's Procession winding through the streets of Norwich. Picture: Ian BurtThe Lord Mayor's Procession winding through the streets of Norwich. Picture: Ian Burt

Councillor Martin Schmierer, Lord Mayor of Norwich, said: “It is a real honour for me to lead this year’s Lord Mayor’s Celebration.

“This historic and much loved occasion is a great example of what a fine city we live in.

“I hope everyone has a wonderful time.”

For centuries the idea has been a notable feature of civic life in Norwich and the earliest recording of “old Snap”, the dragon who leads the procession, is from 1408.

The Lord Mayor's Procession winding through the streets of Norwich. Picture: Ian BurtThe Lord Mayor's Procession winding through the streets of Norwich. Picture: Ian Burt

The annual procession developed from celebrations in honour of St George into Guild Day’s grand civic celebrations when the new Mayor was sworn into office.

But the pageantry of Guild Day faded away in the early 19th century, despite various attempts to revive it.

This was only achieved in the 1970s, when a proposal was put forward to create a Grand Norwich Festival by Harry Boreham in 1971.

Years of planning went into the eventual re-commencement of the procession in 1976 – and since then it has evolved into the carnival atmosphere of today.

The scene in St Stephen's, Norwich, during the Lord Mayor's Procession as crowds watch the colourful floats, 1987. Picture: Archant libraryThe scene in St Stephen's, Norwich, during the Lord Mayor's Procession as crowds watch the colourful floats, 1987. Picture: Archant library

Helen Selleck, Norwich City Council’s culture and events manager, said: “The scene is set for a spectacular weekend in Norwich, with a jam-packed programme of entertainment in honour of Circus 250 taking place across the city centre.

“There really is something for everyone, from free activities for youngsters and the Lord Mayor’s Procession, to a variety of live music and diverse street theatre.”

Our Lord Mayor’s Celebration coverage is sponsored by First Eastern Counties.

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