Thousands of people flocked to turn Market Harborough’s comeback carnival into a sparkling all-action success yesterday (Saturday).
Mums, dads, grandparents and a lot of excited children turned out to have the time of their lives at the town’s first carnival for three years.
And they lapped up all the action in bright summer sunshine until a short sharp shower fell just after 3.30pm.
The 500-strong 10k race kicked off the festive spectacular as the runners headed out from Symington’s Rec off St Mary’s Road at 10am.
Hundreds of families lined the route of the 60-minute parade as 20 floats swept through the town centre before filing along Coventry Road, Farndon Road, Welland Park Road, Northampton Road and St Mary’s Road.
And people were still queueing to get into Symington’s Rec at 2pm as crowds of revellers turned the sprawling park into a riot of noise and colour as temperatures hit 21C (70F).
Delighted Paul Milligan, 39, chair of the carnival’s committee, had to shout as he told us by Borough Alliance FC’s clubhouse: “It’s just been a perfect day.
“I can’t take the smile off my face!
“It’s all gone like clockwork up to now, it couldn’t have been better.
“The 10k run through the town and up to the canal and back was sold out, that went down a storm,” said Paul, of Market Harborough.
“Mums, dads and children as well as friends and loads of other loved ones have been queueing four to five deep along St Mary’s Road to get in here.
“It’s just been sensational.
“A beautiful historic steam engine headed up the parade so that was amazing.
“We even had the 3rd Market Harborough Scouts’ popular Santa sleigh taking part, which made it even more special!
“And the atmosphere here at Symington’s Rec is just absolutely buzzing, it’s jumping with life,” said Paul.
“Our carnival here stretches back over 100 years and it’s always gone well.
“But this year’s event is right up there with the best.
“It’s as if so many people in Market Harborough and surrounding villages have missed it so much amid the Covid pandemic that they were determined to come along and get behind us today.
“There’s such a good vibe, people are out there having picnics, having a drink, playing games, having a fantastic time.
“The sun’s been out, it’s warm, it couldn’t be better.
“We’ve got live music, street food vendors, fairground rides, children’s activity tents, about 60 trade stalls – there’s just so much to do and enjoy.
“It’s hard to believe that we were on the brink just a few weeks ago after our big sponsor pulled out very late in the day,” said Paul.
“So the fact that we’re all here today having a ball in the sunshine makes it even sweeter.
“I’d like to pay a huge thank you to the people and businesses who have stepped up to support us – and to the Harborough Mail for getting the word out there.
“This is a real 100 per cent community event, put on by the people of Market Harborough and the entire area for our local people.
“So I couldn’t be happier to see the crowds here this afternoon having so many laughs and so much fun – and we’ll be here till 8.30pm tonight.”
The 20-float parade was led by Evedon Lad, a magnificent 112-year-old traction engine based at Marston Trussell.
Tom Wing, who helps to run Marston Steam and Vintage Restorations with full-time partners Jack Brown and Karl Titchener, said: “We’re very proud to come here today and lead the parade around the town, it’s been stunning.
“Evedon Lad was built in Northampton in 1910 for threshing and other farm work and is a grand old engine.
“It’s attracting so much attention here, people love the old engines, they stand out so much,” said Tom.
“We won best in show at a big steam rally at Strumpshaw in Norfolk last weekend out of 60 engines so we were thrilled.”