The 53rdAnnual Illuminated Procession moves off this Saturday at 7pm sharp from the bridge in Tangier Way and down into Wood Street.
It turns right into Bridge Street before going up through the town centre into East Street and down over East Reach. The public performance and judging ends at the junction with Wordsworth Drive.
The spectacle begins with a cavalcade of the ever-popular Harley Davidson motorcycles parading around the route to ‘warm up’ the crowds followed by last –year’s class-winning Ilminster Majorettes.
This year’s Miss Taunton, the Carnival Queen, Lucy Wheeler and Carnival Princess Mya Goodman will have pride of place near the front of the Procession looking extremely regal in their gowns, cloaks and tiaras.
Feature, Tableau and Comic floats will eclipse the street lights with their dazzling displays using hundreds and hundreds of light bulbs interspersed between the wonderful walking entries – with themes ranging from The Greatest Showman to Cinderella.
Over the last three Saturdays Wellington, Ilminster and Chard have hosted the Procession with the majority of entries appearing there proudly showing off the floats and costumes they’ve spent weeks bringing together. As well as being out to entertain the crowds they are competing in a dozen different classes for coveted local trophies, and points towards the overall South Somerset Federation awards. Carnival is full of friendly rivalry so holding the cups aloft in front of the competition can be more important than the prize money
The Procession will take just over an hour to pass any one point on the mile long route.
Bringing up the rear will be the one vehicle the organisers hope not to need – a Brakedown Recovery unit kindly provided by Frost Rescue from Bridgwater.
DURING THE DAY
On Saturday morning Historic Cars and Harley Davidson Motorcycles will process through the town centre in convoy before forming up in High Street. These are always an attraction to both young and old and plenty will cast an envious or rose-tinted eye over them. As an incentive to all the car owners to keep everything gleaming and in tip-top condition, Miss Taunton, Lucy Wheeler will select ‘the most pleasing vehicle’ in her eyes to receive the annual Spiller Trophy.
Children can join in the Mask & Hat Competition being held at the Museum of Somerset from 11.00am to 2.00pm. The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Fran Smith will judge the entries and present the Mayor’s Millenium Cup to the winner.
QUALITY CARNIVAL MERCHANDISE
The Carnival Committee will be selling Official Carnival Merchandise this year during the day in High Street and during the Procession. Visibly branded Official Sellers will be out on the streets selling high quality ‘light-ups’ and toys. Committee Chairman Marilyn House said “We want to keep as much of the public’s money in the local economy. To do that we’re selling Quality Carnival Merchandise ourselves and encourage spectators to buy from the Official Sellers during the day and from the two Official Lorries in the evening. Many spectators won’t realise that other traders and pedlars come from outside the area and none of their proceeds goes to Taunton Carnival or local charities at all.”
Taunton Carnival Committee puts in all the hard work organising the Procession for two main purposes – to provide a spectacle in the town’s calendar of events and to raise money for local charities.
“Our main charity this year is again Love Musgrove” said Mrs House, “Storm Brian seriously affected the street collection last year and reduced the amount we were able to donate to charity so the Committee decided to support them for a second year They’ll be with us during the day in High Street so come along and find out more about them.”
During the evening Procession there will be dozens of Official Collectors on the ground. Please empty your pockets and give them a busy and successful night. The reward for performers and event organisers alike is to see all the collecting tins full and piles of coins on the lorries. Show your appreciation by getting rid of all that loose change any old £1 coins you find down the sofa. Treasurer Roz Swinburne commented “If everyone put £1 or 50p coins into the collection we’d easily make up for last year and more! Of course we don’t mind what coins or notes come our way but we do need a lot of them please. We’re happy if it takes us all day Sunday to count it.”
ROAD CLOSURES AND TRAFFIC DIVERSIONS
Castle Street will be closed to traffic between the entrance to Tangier and Castle Street car parks as will Tangier Way down to the junction with Wood Street from 2.00pm to allow all the entries to assemble and get ready for the evening’s show. Access to Tesco and Lidl will not be affected, but Enfield car park will be closed all day.
The town centre will be closed at 6.30pm so the Procession Route can be cleared of traffic before the crowds move in to line the pavements.
Through traffic is directed away from the centre to keep it moving and to keep a clear access to Musgrove Park Hospital. The official east-west diversion is via Priory Avenue, Trenchard Way (NIDR), Staplegrove Road, Silk Mills Road and Wellington Road.
No vehicles will be able to leave Wood Street, Yarde Place, Haydon Road or Victoria Gate on to the route whilst the Procession is taking place, between 6.30pm and around 9pm. There will be an alternative route out of the Wood Street area via Cleveland Street and French Weir Recreation Ground.
The Carnival Committee works very closely with all the Emergency Services to make sure everything on and off the Procession route runs smoothly on Carnival night. There are Marshals all along the route to keep an eye on spectators and make sure the Procession passes safely. These are closely supported by local Police, with St John Ambulance crews from across Somerset around the route in case of accidents to participants or spectators alike. Senior staff from the Emergency Services and other Agencies come together with the organisers in a joint “Control Room” where they are ready to co-ordinate action should anything unforeseen happen. The Carnival Clubs all have safety guidelines and good practice notes to follow to keep their members safe.