It’s almost two weeks since my last blog, when I was looking forward to the Gloucester Day Parade on 5 September. This is now long in the past, but this is my first chance to catch up so I wanted to revisit briefly.
I only knew that the parade had been resurrected because of an article in The Citizen a couple of weeks earlier, but I presume that it had been advertised more widely elsewhere (had it?). I turned up with my step-dad, Ken, at about 1330 to see the parade assemble.
To say that the rendezvous point was low-key was something of an understatement: starting in Constitution Walk, behind the library, it was well off the beaten track, and as far as I could see there was nothing to direct people to it. Once at the start point, however, we found it a hive of activity.
Within the narrow confines of the library and the now disused bowls club were disorderly gatherings of smartly uniformed and musical instrument wielding army and sea cadets, suited and medal-wearing members of the British Legion and other organisations for military veterans, traditionally attired members of the English Civil War Society, City officials in equally archaic appearing robes and regalia of office, and a rag-tag gathering of other organisations including the Civic Trust and a number of church organisations. In all, The Citizen reported that more than 200 people marched through the streets of Gloucester, herded and led by the inimitable town crier, Alan Myatt.
The new city flag, borne aloft by a proud sea cadet, was blessed, and then the parade set off on its way through the gate streets, ending in King’s Square where the bands did their stuff and the civic dignitaries and others spoke from a small stage. I’m pleased to report that there was a good turn out along the route: it may be an exaggeration to say that crowds thronged the route, but there were certainly enough to prove the doubters and cynics wrong. All in all, I would declare the day a success and there is talk of a repeat for next year.
This makes a very welcome addition to the city’s calendar of events and I hope that it can grow in scale and ambition. The parade was very good, but not well publicised or obviously supported in the wider city. It would be nice to see Gloucester shops and pubs getting involved and perhaps some bunting and signage throughout the streets so that visitors and bystanders knew what was going on. Other attractions along the route to provide a more celebratory feel would also be welcome and perhaps some entertainment going on into the evening and events and activities to engage a wider range of interests, building on the success of other events throughout the summer and the Heritage Open Days just a week later.
None of this is intended to detract from the monumental efforts of all of those involved in this inaugural event: suggestions are easy to make, but someone has to make them happen and that’s not so easy!