Grand reunion as Littlehampton Carnival gears up for launch

Carnival Queen Mariah Lee (centre) with Princesses Casey Dolton (left) and Lois Reed
Carnival Queen Mariah Lee (centre) with Princesses Casey Dolton (left) and Lois Reed

THE 40th Littlehampton Carnival, this weekend (Saturday, July 12), is set to be quite a family gathering, with the whole town invited.

Carnival ‘royalty’ and committee members from as far away as Wales and Scotland will be returning to join in the celebrations.

More than 20 royals, including former queens, junior queens, princesses, junior princesses and flower girls will ride in an open top bus in Saturday’s carnival parade, which looks like being one of the biggest and best in recent times.

Last year’s lower-key event resulted from the carnival having to change its date when Goodwood’s Festival of Speed was moved forwards, leading to two of the top attractions, the Romsey Old Cadets and Bournemouth Carnival bands, being absent.

They’ll be back this year, with the Romsey band telling carnival president Freda Hughes to look out for their costumes, although she is sworn to secrecy on just what crowd-pleasing outfits and antics lie in store.

Also being kept under wraps is the carnival’s own float, on which queen Mariah Lee, princesses Lois Reed and Casey Dolton, junior queen Jazmine Hobbs and flower girls Abbie Travers and Alison Jenkins will travel in the procession.

Sarah Abbiss, mother of former carnival queen Natalie, has designed the float. “I don’t even know myself what it will be like, but I’ve heard it will be spectacular,” said Freda.

The carnival looks like bouncing back in style for its 40th parade, with the theme ‘Let’s Party’. Freda’s appeal in the Gazette a couple of weeks ago for more support looks to have paid off, with several more entries among the floats and walking groups, and with a particularly strong field in the disability category.

The popular City of Coventry Corps of Drums and Farnborough Drum and Trumpet Corps, as well as the Arundel and Littlehampton District Scout Band, will keep up the beat along the parade route and the Wonder Girls and Regis Troopers are certain to have a spring in their step, too.

There’s still time for last-minute entries and for more volunteers to help with the street collection – call Freda on 01903 716634.

l This year’s carnival is dedicated to the memory of Graham Keen, who helped the carnival over the years as a volunteer and parade marshall and was a loyal supporter of the event.

Sadly, Graham, who was married to former Gazette receptionist Carole, died earlier this year.