Lord Mayor writes: The celebrations mean so much

Lord Mayor's Procession 2009. Photo: Antony Kelly.

Lord Mayor's Procession 2009. Photo: Antony Kelly. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHI

The origins of the Lord Mayor's Procession lie back in the 1400's when the powerful Guild held a street parade on St. Georges Day, April 23rd.

A play was enacted where a guild member dressed as a saint and rescued St Margaret from the dragon. A different sort of dragon 'Old Snap' appears on the scene in a 1408 archive report 'snapping his jaws and capering among the crowd, creating fun and fear'.

So it is that these traditions, having been kept alive through many centuries, give us the basis of the Lord Mayor's Procession that we have today.

But today's event is far more than just a procession, which is one of the largest in the country outside of London. It is a celebration which spans four days of theatre, live music, street performances, sports and fireworks.

Apart from highly decorated and inventive motorised floats, there are costumed Caribbean style dancers and walking groups which wind their way through the city centre from Newmarket Road to Whitefriars – a fantastic visual spectacle and lots of music besides.

Each year the event grows in popularity, not least because it is free for everyone to enjoy, residents and visitors alike. The city council estimate that the four day event attracts 50,000 people while the street procession has 25,000 attendees.

To me, it is one of the highlights of the Lord Mayor's year, a chance to see Norwich in party mode, a chance to see voluntary organisations, clubs, societies and businesses advertise themselves, a chance to promote the Civic Charity of Cruse Bereavement Care and raise money for them. While I walk the route I will reminiscence over the many other Lord Mayor's processions I have watched with the family over the years.

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However this year will be different – it will be the first time I have ever been a participant. I will be walking with my family and friends in the procession, with Snap and the Whifflers, soaking up the atmosphere and seeing it all from the inside, as it were. Norwich showcasing what it can do.

Finally I must say some 'thank yous' - to Norwich City council and their events organiser Helen Selleck and the many volunteers involved to make all the events such a success.

The Lord Mayor's procession is a chance for the city to let its hair down and throw a party – one where everyone has an invite and a party which culminates in fantastic fireworks at 10.30pm – don't miss it and look out for Snap.