A MAGICAL festive atmosphere cast a spell over Hucknall when the town’s Christmas Carnival was saluted as the best in its 17-year-history.
The magnificent event attracted an estimated 7,000 revellers to the town centre.
Santa Claus was the star of a spectacular parade, while a fairground on Market Place wowed youngsters and Christmas carols were belted out by Hucknall-based Phil Rostance and the Marshall Band.
The festive season was officially ushered in with the switch-on of the lights on the town’s civic Christmas tree on Market Place.
The buzz was in stark contrast to last year when organiser Hucknall Rotary Club had to cancel the Carnival at the 11th hour because of heavy snow, ice and sub-zero termperatures.
Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall, who is deputy leader of Ashfield District Council, applauded Wednesday’s 16th renewal.
“It was the biggest turnout by far since the Carnival was revived in 1995,” Coun Wilmott declared. “There has always been a good crowd but nothing like this. Thanks have got to go to the volunteers who made it a real night to remember. It was the event of the year.”
The traditional parade, which runs from the Aldi store on Portland Road into the heart of the town centre, was led by a marching band. Members of the public and local community groups took part.
There was also a lorry carrying the message ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ and packed with youngsters dressed as angels.
When the parade finally stopped, it revealed Santa on his refurbished sleigh, which was pulled along by a car recently used by Hucknall man Derek Howarth on a charity drive from France to Italy to raise money for autism sufferers.
As youngsters spotted the man in red, he was engulfed.
A roadshow on Market Place was led by Capital FM (formerly Trent FM) radio-show presenters Twiggy and Emma. And a handful of stalls, selling Christmas fare, lined High Street.
Ahead of the lights switch-on, Hucknall’s rector, the Rev Kathryn Herrod, welcomed the crowds.
The public-address system made it difficult for her to be heard. But there was no problem in catching the countdown before Coun May Barsby (Lab), chairman of Ashfield District Council, flicked the switch for the lights.
It was then over to the Marshall band to perform another set.
The Carnival’s main organiser, Allan Johnson, of the Rotary Club, said: “It was a fantastic event. The weather was good, which helped. I had been watching the forecast all day and hoping.
“It was a great night for the whole community. It’s hard to come up with a crowd total but there were many, many thousands there.
“The success is down to everyone doing their own little bit — from Rotarians to groups who take part in the parade.”
Several High Street businesses stayed open on the night, while the John Godber Centre on Ogle Street and Central Methodist Church on Baker Street served refreshments.
The police, Ashfield Council’s community protection officers (CPOs), St John Ambulance first-aiders and the town’s new street pastors were all out in force.
The night provided a first taste of the Carnival for the town’s police chief, Insp Nick Butler.
He said: “It was brilliant and very well organised. It was a great chance to meet the local community and build bridges.”
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) had to deal with only one problem when confiscating alcohol from a group of young men at the funfair.
One of them was subsequently arrested for being drunk and disorlderly after he knocked over a young child.
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