Cleethorpes Carnival Parade: A history
It’s the end of an era for seaside town Cleethorpes, as the last ever Carnival Parade will pass through the resort on Saturday.
After running for 37 years, the parade will bring music and splendour to the streets for the final time. An integral part of Cleethorpes’ history, the parade fills the childhood memories of residents the town over.
But how did it all begin?
Organiser Leanor Pidgen, who has been involved with the parade in one way or another for 35 years, explained it was the brainchild of Alan Price, head of leisure at the then-Cleethorpes Borough Council.
“They had a very small budget, and were told if they could get 15 floats it could go ahead, but they ended up getting around 40!” said Leanor.
The event was taken over by Sue Regan a few years later, when Mr Price moved to Rhyl. Sue, who sadly died two years ago, was at the helm of the parade for several years.
It remained in the hands of Cleethorpes Borough Council for many years, during which time it “went from strength to strength,” said Leanor.
“We had 140 floats at one point!” she said.
Reflecting on that time, Leanor said: “Sue put her heart and soul into it”.
Soon afterwards, Leanor’s son Andrew became involved with the parade, working as Sue’s assistant. He worked under her for several years, and in 1997 North East Lincolnshire Council took over the event.
In 2001 Sue moved on, and Andrew filled her shoes. The parade enjoyed continued success until October 2006, when the council announced it would no longer be able to take responsibility for the event.
“So a group from the tourism forum, as it was then, got together to see if they could make it work,” Leanor explained. “They decided to save the carnival over the Kite Parade, as it’s such a community event.
“In January we sat down with not a penny to our name,” she continued. “I relied on my son and all the things he had written about the event.
“We begged borrowed and stole that year to get it on the road, so we patted ourselves on the back when it all came together!”
Turning to the parade’s finances, Leanor, 67, said: “It’s a not-for-profit event, we have had money from all sorts of people, businesses in Cleethorpes, local traders. They give staff, money and time.
“We also collected money locally – once we raised nearly £4,000 in coppers in the space of around two hours! When you think people don’t have much money in this area.
“People give what they can, but they haven’t got enough to give. The last few years have been dire, especially because of the weather.
“Every penny we get drops into our pot, but we are going under. It costs £30,000 to put on, the police no longer do traffic management so we have to employ a company - that was a big additional cost – and insurance costs £3,600.
“We just cannot recoup everything, and there’s no way you can charge people, as it’s a moving parade.”
This year the parade, which covers a five mile stretch, boasts 55 floats consisting of 100 vehicles, and 750 pedestrians are expected to walk alongside it. There will also be dancing dogs – with 25 owners – along with jugglers, unicycles, a singing duo and a four-strong aircraft display.
Police estimate the event will attract between 25,000 and 30,000 people in total.
The five-strong committee is responsible for organising all aspects of the event. “It takes six months of my life to get it on the road,” said Leanor. “I’ve lost nearly all my hair by the end!”
Reflecting on how the parade has changed over the years, Leanor noted health and safety regulations. “They are right in some ways but stifling in another,” she said.
“We have become a nanny state; some of the rules should just be common sense, but we have to drum it into people’s heads! But I don’t disagree that safety has to be paramount.”
The floats themselves have also grown considerably in size, said Leanor. “Before you had flat back lorries, now you’ve got 40 tonne artic lorries.
“Also, we insist there is always scaffolding on the back to protect the children. We also make sure there’s a certain ratio of adults to children on a lorry.”
And unlike the early years, the parade now demands a large number of barriers to be erected. “I’ve got 1,400 barriers coming in,” said Leanor. “We don’t barrier the whole route, but we have to barrier certain bits.”
Turning to the parade’s fate, Leanor said: “It’s a super event that has been run for a very long time. It will be sad to see it end, it’s a very popular event.
“I’m sorry to say I’m calling it a day, but I’m getting on a bit now. I first got involved when my daughter was three, and she’ll be 39 this year! I never thought I would get involved as much as I did.
“I’m sure there will be a few tears; it’s a big thing for Cleethorpes.”