With me unfortunately missing the wonderful Camden Road Parade, I've invited a good friend Anne Goldstein to write a guest post. Please welcome her.
On Saturday, there was the biggest show on earth – well, in Tunbridge Wells – as hundreds gathered for a lantern procession to celebrate the diversity and culture of Camden Road. The road is the setting for the forthcoming community play, which is being developed with residents by the Claque theatre company.
Designers Nina and Bonnie had been working for weeks with many groups and individuals to construct some awe-inspiring lanterns. The Filipino community turned up in numbers and created a glorious angel, boats and stars. The Jewish community made flame-shaped lanterns to represent the festival of Chanukah. The dynamic Kim and the Women’s International Network created an enormous globe shaped lantern.
There were heart lanterns galore, covered in pink, made by the wonderful Polly Taylor and the members and volunteers of the Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre. Beulah Road residents’ association created a cake that looked good enough to eat. There were also children’s lanterns, made by the children of St James’ and St Barnabas schools, a wonderful giraffe made by the cheerful TWGGS girls, a dove from the Church of Christ, a dragon-fly, a clock set at the time the parade would begin, national flag lanterns, horses, a Winnie the Pooh head, a glorious fish and of course, the symbol of the parade, the massive elephant.
Everyone gathered in the busy Calverley Road precinct, carefully lighting their lanterns. At four o’clock the parade moved off, snaking its way down Camden Road. The Sea Cadets TS Brilliant played at the front, with the mayor and mayoress walking with a dancing white bear, who turned out to be the director of Claque theatre company, Jon Oram. At the rear of the parade were the pulsating drums and swaying movements of the Bloco Fogo samba group, resplendent in red and yellow.
There was a remarkable reception from Camden Road shoppers and retailers as the parade moved down the road towards St Barnabas school. Everyone was smiling and waving. Donald, at DW Audio, put on a display of laser lights. The procession ended at St Barnabas school, where there was a party with West African drumming band, Tricky Beats. Cath Hylton from Claque theatre company led the refreshment team and looked delighted at the way everything had come together.
As people moved off home, everyone was thinking the same thing - why can’t something as uplifting, creative and unifying as this happen every year in Tunbridge Wells?