End of an era for Hayling Carnival float procession

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THE historic procession of floats at the Hayling Carnival is to be axed after this year.

The colourful floats have been part of the carnival since 1953 when the first one was held to celebrate the Queen’s coronation.

Marilyn Skennerton has been running the event for The Hayling Islands Lions Club since 1983 and in that year there were 89 floats from businesses, schools and community groups all over the island.

But last year only 11 floats were entered.

Mrs Skennerton said: ‘The number of floats has been decreasing over the years. Times have changed and sometimes things go full circle.

‘People just don’t seem to be interested any more.

‘It takes months of planning with the council and the police, sorting out road closures. But I have to give the public what it wants and sadly it does not seem to want the procession. It’s very sad, it’s part of the island’s history.

‘What I don’t want is for the number of floats to go down to two or three, it would be such a shame.

‘Much better to go out on a high.’

The final number for this year’s procession, on August 6, won’t be known until the day because people enter right up until the last minute.

Paul Fisher, the chairman of Hayling Island Residents’ Association, said: ‘It’s highly regrettable, it’s been part of carnival day ever since they started.

‘However, it has been increasingly difficult to get floats to take part no matter how hard they try.

‘They changed the day, provided facilities for getting vehicles, but for some reason or another people weren’t interested.’

But Mrs Skennerton – who spends the entire year planning the event – says if there is an overwhelming response this year she may consider the procession’s future again.

The carnival itself will continue with the quirky mix of traditional events, including wrestling, a baby show, dog show, a model balloon clown and fancy dress as well as the fairground rides.

At dusk there will be a fireworks display.

The procession begins at 3pm at Mengham Park where the floats will be judged and will pass down Harold Road, on to Rails Lane and then along the Seafront to Beachlands.

To take part in the procession call Hayling Island Lions Club on (023) 9246 3491 or go to haylinglions.org.uk and register online.