Stamford Festival’s Parade of Floats proves as popular as ever

Stamford Carnival Procession  from Recreation Ground road to Broad Street.''BY-LINE PIX BY JAMES COWLAN PLEASE EMN-150628-213316009
Stamford Carnival Procession from Recreation Ground road to Broad Street.''BY-LINE PIX BY JAMES COWLAN PLEASE EMN-150628-213316009
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Action heroes filled the town centre in Stamford on Saturday as the popular Parade of Floats took place.

The parade, organised by Stamford and District Kiwanis, is a highlight of the Stamford Festival calendar, which is marking its 35th event this year. Once again, crowds of people filled Broad Street and Red Lion Square to watch as the parade, led ably by Stamford Brass Band, made its way from the Recreation Ground and through the town. There was a pause for the judges who kept a watchful eye on proceedings from the comfort of the balcony at Browne’s Hospital. Mercury editor Mark Edwards was one of the judges and praised the parade as a fantastic event for the town.

Along the route, hundreds of spectators, many of them watching their young relatives, clapped and cheered and gave generously to the passing collection buckets.

The Recreation Ground was a hive of activity beforehand as the excited participants, both young and old, got ready to set off - either by foot or on the back of a flatbed truck. And afterwards, participants and visitors alike returned to the Rec, where there was a host of entertainment to enjoy.

The Welland School of Dancing, Jem’s Hip Hop and Starlight were all on hand to perform, while there were also tasty burgers to tuck into and cool drinks to slurp - much needed as the sun shone. The prizes were also handed out to the best floats.

Kiwani Jo Willis was thrilled with how the parade went.

He said: “The weather was absolutely perfect for it and there were lots of mums, dads and grandparents lining the route to watch their little ones. All the kids were so excited, which is just brilliant to see.

“It’s very much a part of Stamford’s calendar and it is a wonderful community event. There was a great atmosphere.”

Jo said his particular highlight of the parade was the Chater Lodge Care Home’s effort.

He said: “There were lots of camouflage outfits and a wild west heroes float. But the Chater Lodge float was hilarious, really funny. It was a granny who looked like she was in her 80s in the back of a van with a machine gun! Lots of people were laughing.”

A Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Hurricane drew whoops from the crowds as it passed over the parade.

Jo also praised the efforts of all the truck drivers who give their time free to take part in the event, although many of the participants passed by on foot or danced along the route.

With support from the police,fire service and St John Ambulance the day fortunately passed without incident.

The event is one of the Kiwanis’ main fundraising events of the year and funds are still being counted. But Jo was keen to emphasise that the real pleasure in organising the event is putting something on that the whole community can enjoy.

The Kiwanis are now turning their attention to organising a free family fun day, which will take place at Burghley House on Sunday, August 9.

The parade of floats is a tradition of the festival but new for this year was Stamford’s first Arts Festival, organised by not-for-profit group Art Pop-Up in association with INK Contemporary Theatre.

Jo said the events on the Recreation Ground, which included an artists’ marquee with drop-in art activities, was particularly popular. There was also street entertainment and performances throughout the town centre at nine designed festival performance spots. These included a sword swallower, poem readings, a photographer, a dance company, a juggler and a stilt walker.

There was also an art hunt through the town centre featuring the winning images from the art festival competition with prizes kindly donated by Sweet Shoppe Dreams of Stamford.

Parade of Floats winners

Festival Directors Award: Chater Lodge

Best School: St George’s

Best Commercial: Stamford Arts Centre

Best Club: Girl Guides

Cummins Newage Award: Sukies

Most Entertaining Hanson Jubilee Award: Welland School of Dance

Best Turned Out Vehicle: C S Ellis

Special Merit: Starlight Dance and Musical Theatre School

Best Overall: Stamford Pantomime Players