Cancellation of Leighton-Linslade Carnival confirmed, as plans for a virtual procession are revealed
Leighton-Linslade Carnival is the latest major public event to be called off due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
With the VE Day celebrations in May and Big Lunch in June already falling by the wayside, organisers met online on Wednesday via Zoom and agreed they had little option but to cancel the carnival festivities which had been due to take place on Saturday, July 11, with the theme of Animals.
After being chosen as this year's "royalty", Poppy Freeman (Senior Carnival Princess) and Charlotte Cox (Carnival Princess) have been told they are being retained for the 2021 event.
And plans are being developed to stage a virtual procession for 2020 instead, with children asked to design a float on a lorry template which will be distributed across the town in booklets and leaflets. Once sent to the committee, the artwork will be used to create the online procession on the carnival website and Facebook page.
Mark Freeman, chairman of Leighton-Linslade Carnival, said: "We are very disappointed that we have had to cancel carnival, but everyone knows the reason why. Unfortunately, very many events will be cancelled this year and we feel very sorry for all the ride operators, performers etc who have seen their livelihood hit by this pandemic.
"The carnival court, Senior Princess Poppy and Princess Charlotte, are obviously also disappointed that they won’t be in the procession in July, but we will make sure they are able to be on the 2021 royalty float alongside the court selected next year."
Mr Freeman revealed this year's programme will be replaced by a 16-page fun book containing puzzles and colouring. The centre spread will be a lorry template for youngsters to design a and submit a float for the virtual procession on carnival day.
He said: "The booklet will be delivered to about 4,500 homes, in areas we think have a higher density of children. All other areas of town will receive a leaflet explaining that carnival, and carnival’s Picnic in the Park, have been cancelled and also containing the lorry template. In this way all homes in Leighton-Linslade should receive the template lorry. The virtual procession is being sponsored by SLB Distribution who will be doing the deliveries for us. The booklet will also be available at Morrison and Waitrose supermarkets for shopper to pick up.
"We are asking children to put the float pictures in their windows on carnival day and photograph the windows. We would like the photos posted to the Carnival Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/leightonlinsladevirtualcarnival2020."
He said the committee was aiming to prepare a video with images of previous carnivals which will be on its website leightoncarnival.moonfruit.com and Facebook. Other ideas may also be developed in the coming week which would be announced online.
Mr Freeman said: "Having worked on Carnival 2020 since last summer it is very strange to now starting over again planning an online alternative. We aim to do the best we can in the time available.
"It is a shame that we will not be able to raise funds for local groups this year. Each of the last few years have seen as much as £6,000 distributed between as many as 43 groups."
Reflecting on the success of the event, he added: "After a very difficult time for carnival in the 1950s, when the event wasn’t held for a few years, the Leighton Buzzard Youth Club revived carnival. Led by the late Peter Lymbery, the first carnival of modern time was held on 30th June 1962.
"The review in the LBO was not as encouraging as it could have been, but carnival was back in 1963 and has been held every year since. We have been looking forward to 2021 with the 60th carnival since the revival – hopefully we will be back on 10th July 2021 with a bigger and better carnival."