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Sea, samba and a bit of a soaking on Wells Carnival’s big day

20:09 04 August 2012

Dancers at Wells Carnival parade today. Picture by Emma Licence

Dancers at Wells Carnival parade today. Picture by Emma Licence

Archant

At the Olympics, it was Super Saturday. At Wells, today was Sensational Samba Day - with a soaking into the bargain - as families turned out in force for the showpiece event of the town’s carnival celebrations.

Thousands of people lined the streets this afternoon for Carnival Day, the highlight of nine days of revelry, live music and entertainment.

Wells Quay was jammed to the gunwales with townsfolk and trippers. And such were the numbers of spectators and parade participants, on floats, in vehicles and on foot, that organising committee chairman Patrick Weston declared: “It’s Wells that’s struck gold today. And I’m proud of it.”

He added: “The Olympics people made sure they didn’t clash too much with us! And we’re very, very pleased with the parade. The carnival committee might organise it but it’s the town that puts it on. Whatever the weather it wasn’t going to rain on our parade. We’ve had an awesome week, and the community has really pulled together to make it so.”

Leaden rain clouds had been building up over Wells from late-morning, and the heavens opened in the afternoon just as the fancy dress judging was getting under way on the Buttlands.

Not that this bothered some of the entrants, togged up from head to toe as Daleks, and even a pint-sized version of the Westminster clock tower housing Big Ben.

And the rumblings came not from the skies but from ground level - and the thunderous percussion of the Norwich Samba Band.

Other youngsters and grown-ups had umbrella chaperones. Apart from a Benny Hill lookalike, a rum-looking Spice Girls group and a lengthy timeline chronicling 60 years of the Queen’s reign, the many and varied fancy dress contenders also featured some with a London 2012 theme. Among them were Team Olympindians, complete with native American headdresses and show jumpers on hobbyhorses, and a group taking a gentle dig at the beleaguered Games security firm, G4S,

By the time the parade was under way, to the throaty roar of a posse of Harley-Davidson bikers and more samba music and dancing, the rain had all but lifted.

Carnival queen Lucy Harrison rode in an open-topped classic Triumph Stag car. Also in the all-dancing, all-joshing procession as it snaked through Wells streets was official Olympic torchbearer Alex Watson, who lives locally but who ran his stage of the relay at Long Sutton in Lincolnshire.

Enjoying the festivities today was Deirdre Shaul - nee Clarke - watching her first Wells Carnival since 1952, when she appeared as a 15-year-old carnival queen attendant.

She said “I don’t remember very much about that except that it was a freezing cold day.

“It’s a shame it had to rain today because so much preparation goes into events like this. but the main thing is people are enjoying it, me included.”

Carnival Day is rounded off tonight by live entertainment including a visit by Paul Young’s band, Los Pacaminos, and tomorrow’s closing programme includes a car boot sale, craft fair, Proms-style event and country music. Full details at www.wellscarnival.co.uk

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