'I am the devil, I make children cry' - Meet the man inside Snap the Dragon

Chris Page at the reins of Snap the Dragon.

Chris Page at the reins of Snap the Dragon. - Credit: Norwich Pageantry

Guess who's back kids? 

Since the 14th century, Norwich's Lord Mayor's Procession has been led by Snap the Dragon, who has become infamous in the city for making children cry and stealing their caps.

But the devilish dragon can't do it all on his own, and that's where Snap's handler, 66-year-old former butcher, Chris Page comes in.

And after Covid put paid to the celebration in the past few years Chris is ready to terrify the crowds again.

Chris is responsible for getting Snap ready for the big day and controlling him as he makes his way around the procession route.

He has been in charge of Snap for seven years, but has only led him through five parades due to lockdown.

Snap the Dragon ready to escort the Mayor of West Norfolk through King's Lynn to the Guildhall for S

Snap on the prowl. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

His preparations began last week when Snap was lowered from his lair above the café at St George's Church.

Mr Page inside Snap at this year's Lord Mayor's Reception.

Mr Page inside Snap at this year's Lord Mayor's Reception. - Credit: Norwich Pageantry

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Chris said: "The main thing to check is the snapping mechanism and this year we had to fix it."

Snap the Dragon and the Whifflers lead the Lord Mayors coach along The Walk on festival day which a

Enter the dragon: Snap kicks off a Lord Mayor's Procession in the 1950s. - Credit: Norwich 1945 to 1960: A journey from Austerity to Prosperity by Frances and Michael Holmes

But even once he's in tip top condition, controlling an 8m-long medieval dragon is no easy task.

Chris says he cannot see Snap's controls or his own feet once he's inside Snap and the dragon weighs more than 120 pounds.

He requires two assistants at the front and rear to direct him on parade day and also said it was very hot work.

"Snap" the mayors medieval dragon used in the Lord Mayors processions and now kept at Norwich Castle

One of Snap's older relatives on display in Norwich Castle. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press ©2003

He added: "I'm all right now but when I'm inside I turn into the devil - that's what Snap represents.

"It goes back to the story of St George and also that was how medieval people thought of the dragon as a manifestation of the devil.

"I am the devil, my job is to make children cry.

"That's why at the Lord Mayor's Service, Snap tries to get into the church but the dean has to keep him out.

Chris Page in action at the Lord Mayor's Reception this year.

Chris Page in action at the Lord Mayor's Reception this year. - Credit: Norwich Pageantry

Snap the Dragon's top tips for making children cry

Snap talks to the crowd, Lord Mayor's Procession. Date: Jul 1996. Photo: EDP Library

Snap talks to the crowd at the 1996 Lord Mayor's Procession. - Credit: Archant

Pounce on them

Snap often hunts out those in the crowd who have not noticed him, before sneaking up to them and pouncing with a loud snap.

Run at them

Some times only brute force will do, Snap charges at young spectators sending them into panic before unleashing his ferocious snap.

Snap at them

This is the scare tactic which gave him his name.

His loud snaps have been terrifying children for years, although Chris says the odd child does find him quite funny these days.

Sudden movements

As Snap makes his way through the parade he jolts and sways from side to side, keeping spectators on their toes.

He often quickly turns his head to stare out a child and start the tears flowing.

Steal their cap

Snap is particularly fond of caps and has amassed a large collection of stolen ones over hundreds of years.

"Snap, Snap, steal his cap" used to be the chant from 14th century spectators baying for the dragon to steal their children's prized possession.