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Circus elephants return to Norwich streets as Lord Mayor's Celebrations begin

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Lord Mayor Martin Schmierer leading the procession.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Lord Mayor Martin Schmierer leading the procession. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

They used to be a familiar sight on Norwich streets when the circus came to town.

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Picture: Nick ButcherGiant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

And on Friday evening Asian elephants returned to the city centre as the curtain lifted on the Lord Mayor’s Celebrations.

The procession of four 
adult elephants and one baby ambled from Chapelfield Gardens down Theatre Street and around to Gaol Hill as the weekend’s circus-themed events got underway.

The puppets, developed by community arts association Tin House and artist Matt Reeve, were followed closely by troupes of actors and jugglers and more as they recreated the parades of circuses from days gone by such as P.T. Barnum and Bailey’s 1898 parade through Norwich.

Helen Selleck, culture and events manager for Norwich City Council, said the idea came to life after the city was selected to create projects as part of Circus250.

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Picture: Nick ButcherGiant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

“We were working with some artists and came up with the idea of five life sized elephants,” she said. “They would come to advertise that the circus was coming to town, and that is the theme of the procession.

“There are people still alive today who remember elephants parading through the city, and we thought we would recreate it.”

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Picture: Nick ButcherGiant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Picture: Nick ButcherGiant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Picture: Nick ButcherGiant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Picture: Nick ButcherGiant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

The elephants will take pride of place at the head of today’s Lord Mayor’s Procession - which has been rescheduled for 6pm to accommodate for England’s World Cup quarter final clash with Sweden.

“It has been really interesting making these puppets because all the artists have developed their skills and it has got involved in a part of our history. The whole experience is fantastic.”

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Picture: Nick ButcherGiant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

Work on the puppets - which are based on Asian elephants - began in February and is a complex process.

The adult elephants are around 9ft high and 13.5ft long, with four puppeteers for the adults, and two for the baby.

The Lord Mayor’s Celebration weekend will also be extended with Chapelfield Gardens hosting circus shows programmed by Norwich-based Lost in Translation circus company from July 11 to 15.

Norwich, along with Great Yarmouth, is one of the country’s six Cities of Circus that are the focus of the Circus250 festivities to mark the 250th anniversary of the art form.

Giant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend.
Picture: Nick ButcherGiant elephant puppets parade through Norwich as part of the Circus250 and Lord Mayor's Celebration weekend. Picture: Nick Butcher

For more on Norwich’s Circus250 activities, visit www.circusnorwich.co.uk

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