Well, I’m glad I went out to see what all the funny outfits were about. I’ve just witnessed a parade, one of the best things I’ve seen in Chichester in years.
When I got down to West Street, the Cathedral Green was cordoned off, the road closed, and a fairly large crowd had gathered. On the green were some large coloured paper globes, like outsize IKEA lamp shades, on tall poles, each representing one of the planets and the sun. Also present was a brass orchestra from one of the local schools, whilst, overhead, the falcons put on a stunning aerobatic display to keep everyone amused, calling to each other as they flew around the spire and bell tower. Didg music played from the Market Cross.
As it got dark, in the distance you could hear drums, and eventually two huge paper models of goddesses came into view along East Street, illuminated from within. These were preceded by the percussionists and about a dozen brass musicians. By this time the crowd was huge and people were pouring out of the pubs to watch. The goddesses were followed by a huge crowd of schoolchildren, maybe three hundred or so, carrying lanterns in the shapes of the moon, stars, planets and rockets, lit white, orange and blue. The parade made its way very slowly along West Street, round the bell tower and onto the green, the children passing between the goddesses and sitting on the ground beneath the illuminated planets whilst a fire was lit beneath the sun. A 30-voice female choir first played those garden hose whistle things (making a sound like whistling fireworks), then sang as all the brass instruments played together and the rhythmic rumbling of the percussion continued. Finally, as the voices died away, white and cerise fireworks streaked across the roof of the cathedral, to cheers and applause from the crowd.
Absolutely fantastic – and brilliant to see the city streets full of people of all sorts enjoying themselves in a funky and relaxed way – the closest Chichester ever gets to having a cosmopolitan and continental feel. I’ve got some pictures, but it was a bit gloomy, so I’m not sure how they will come out when I get the film processed. If there are any good ones, I will post them here, of course.
I honestly can say that I wish you’d been here to see it. It was great.