Why isn’t there a Christmas parade this year?
Some people have been upset at the lack of a Torchlight Procession this year and wonder if it means the end of the popular event for the future. Here’s an explanation and a reassurance.
Disclosure: I’m one of the Amble Events Committee volunteers, so I’ve been involved in the decision making.
Organising the Torchlight Procession has always been one of the main activities for the Events Committee. Discussions about the event start in the summer, and in recent years, workshops with schoolchildren and community groups to make the lanterns and floats have started when the schools go back for autumn term.
Last year with all the lockdowns and social distancing the parade obviously had to be cancelled. This year was less cut and dried, but there was always the possibility of a re-introduction of restrictions, and health experts continued to warn against complacency. The pandemic is not over.
Back in the summer, Covid rates were starting to rise again, despite an increasing number of people getting vaccinated. At the end of June there were 30 cases of Covid in Amble, which was as high as it had been at the end of November 2020. Numbers dropped in July, but by the beginning of September were back up again, and by the middle of October there were 68 people in Amble with Covid. For a group of volunteers running a community event, there are serious matters to grapple with.
Everyone loves the parade. People crowd along Queen Street shoulder to shoulder on the pavements. Hundreds of folks turn up to enjoy the procession and cram into the Town Square at the end. It was a sad decision to postpone the procession for another year, but on health and safety grounds we felt it was the correct choice. Which meant that we would have nothing at all, save the beautiful window displays which proved so popular last year.
But then Dry Water Arts suggested a wonderful alternative; a sound and lights installation along the pier and Little Shore. This meant that rather than being crowded together, people could keep their distance and walk at their own pace in an area with more open space. Stewards would be located around the area to help manage the flow of people, something that would be impossible on Queen Street.
And of course the wonderful Christmas Lights will still be on, turning Queen Street into a magical shopping venue. There won’t be an official switch on, but as ever, the hard work of the Christmas Lights committee is always much appreciated by everyone.
And that’s it. There’s never been a suggestion that the procession will not happen again – far from it, we’re just as keen it happens again. Don’t forget we’re a group of volunteers, we’re always happy to have more people join the committee, so if you’d like to join us, you’d be very welcome.
So even though some people may feel we’ve been over-cautious, and a parade could have gone ahead, please understand why the decisions were made, rest assured it will return, and for this year enjoy something a little different.