Littlehampton Bonfire Society stages its Traditional Bonfire Night on Saturday 28th October, in celebration of the 412th Anniversary of the overthrow of the attempt by Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators to blow up the King and Parliament.
Events kick off with two Dignity Charity Fair Organs playing in the town centre during the day. The society’s traditional poppy wreath will later be laid at the war memorial during a short service lead by the Reverend Norman Croft with music provided by The City of Coventry Corps of Drums in their debut appearance at the event.
The Grand Torchlight Procession will feature over fifty entries from all over the southeast. Carnival associations from Ventnor and Ryde will be making the trip across The Solent with their elaborate floats. Littlehampton Bonfire Society, lead by its North American Indian pioneers and supported by members depicting the Tudor era and in other costumes, will head up the torchlight section of the parade. The host society will be followed by visiting bonfire and carnival societies from Sussex and Kent in their traditional costumes and bearing flaming torches. These will include the members of Phoenix who will be attempting to retain the title of best-dressed visiting society, together with the coveted Butlin Silver Challenge Trophy, which their spectacular costumes won the group in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016. An increased contingent of steam engines this year comprises six full size and five miniature engines, giving spectators the rare opportunity to witness steam on the road after dark. Six marching bands will provide the music – including a debut appearance from the colourful Piccadilly Circus Band. Making a return visit after many years will be The Hampshire Caledonian Pipe Band, who have the honour of leading the torchlight part of the procession. Helping to liven up the proceedings will be the samba rhythms of Celebration Samba and the visiting bands will be joined by the Arundel and Littlehampton District Scout Band and the Littlehampton Sea Cadet Band. Sussex Steel will be performing on their own illuminated float.
Miss Bonfire, 15-year-old Maisy Stanford will ride on her specially constructed float. The lighting of the mammoth bonfire by the society’s Commander in Chief, John Burchfield, will be followed by the grand aerial firework display. William Cole’s family funfair will be open on the Promenade from 2.00p.m.
Street collections at the event are in aid of charities and good causes which benefit the local community, and beneficiaries will include the Littlehampton Town Youth Football Club, Littlehampton and District Food Bank, Coastal West Sussex Mind, Arun Co-ordinated Community Transport, the 1st Wick Guides and The Mayor‘s Charity.
Organisers are hoping that this year’s street collection will be another record breaker. Commented society treasurer Richard Cooper,
‘We are proud that despite ever increasing costs of staging our event, every penny of our collection continues to go to the charities and good causes we support. We charge no entry fee, but we do ask spectators to show their support by donating as much as they are able to our collection buckets, and hope that this year each spectator will be able to give at least £1. We can accept your old £1 coins, so please dig them out from purses, money jars and the back of sofas! We hold the record of £9,283 for the all-time highest street collection at any Sussex bonfire and carnival celebrations. We believe that a £10,000 street collection should be possible in Littlehampton – please help us to achieve this! Don’t forget, all donations to the collection buckets will directly benefit the local community.
Countless hours of volunteer time are involved in organising the celebrations, building the bonfire, making the torches, preparing the costumes and floats and of course raising the funds to stage the event. We are urging Littlehampton residents and visitors to show their support and appreciation of these celebrations and to donate as generously as they can to the collection buckets.’
Littlehampton Bonfire Society has also issued a plea to spectators attending Bonfire Night not to purchase balloons, glow sticks and other carnival novelties from street traders.
‘Any street traders attempting to sell balloons, glow sticks and similar novelty items will be uninvited. They do not contribute to the costs of staging the celebrations and in previous years have caused obstructions. We would very strongly request that spectators put their money in our collection buckets instead to support our chosen beneficiaries. Official refreshment vendors – who do generously contribute to the costs of staging the event – will be found on the bonfire site (East Green car park), The Green, Banjo Road and at William Cole’s fun fair on the promenade.’
Times for the bonfire, firework display and processions are to be found in the Bonfire Night programmes, now on sale in shops in Littlehampton, Wick, Rustington and East Preston and at the Look and Sea Centre, River Road, Littlehampton. See the society’s website www.littlehamptonbonfiresociety.co.uk for programme stockists.