The return of the Chichester Gala has caught the public imagination – and is on the way to becoming a massive success.
In years gone by, the gala was one of the highlights of the city calendar, with thousands of people flocking to the day of celebrations.
And the signs are this year’s gala, on Saturday, June 2, to tie in with the Queen’s jubilee celebrations, could be on the same scale.
The day begins with a procession through the city centre, some entrants on traditional floats, and others walking. So far, the indications are the procession will involve up to 1,000 people.
That will be followed by five hours of arena displays in Priory Park, flanked by stalls and attractions. The day will finish with a rousing singalong musical extravaganza along the lines of Last Night at the Proms.
The procession, which has attracted 38 entries, will start from New Park Road and go through the city centre.
It will include participants from the fire brigade, the Prince of Wales’s Division Band, then Royal Navy Reserve with a field gun, St Pancras Corporation, Goodwood Racecourse and Motor Sport, Chichester Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Simply classes, ST Clemens & Son, New Community Rock Choir, 20s Plenty, The Southern Starlights, Lancastrian Infant School, Chichester Area Talking News, Chichester Royal British Legion, Aziza Egyptian Dance Group, Celebration Samba Band, Spirit of Ishtar, Victoria’s Dance Studio, Sophie Robins, Chichester Harbour and Selsey Sea Cadets, Grace Church, Chichester Rotaract, Central Junior School, TS Sturdy, 5th Chichester Scout Group, Stagecoach Vintage Buses, Transition Chichester, Stonepillow, Contact 88, Rose & Thistle Pipes and Drums, Chichester High School for Girls, Chichester Challenge, PACSO, Chichester Priory Rotary and St George’s Church.
Roads in the city centre will be closed from 11am and although they will reopen as soon as the last entrants pass a given point, there is likely to be a significant amount of traffic backing up for while.
As the procession assembles at New Park, the mayor will judge all the entrants and present a cup to the best walking group and to the best float.
Close to the front of the procession will be the Gala queen and princesses, who will travel in a Rolls-Royce.
The Observer ran a competition to find the gala ‘royalty’ and the queen will be Bea Bostick, 14, from Chichester, and the two princesses are Sophie Campbell, 11, from Fishbourne, and Amanda Matthews, 13, from Funtington.
For a full preview of the Chichester Gala, with a map of the Priory Park attractions and all the event details, don’t miss a special eight-page supplement free with the Observer on Thursday, May 31.