DOWN MEMORY LANE Floats, clowns, motorcycles...we knew how to have Gala fun

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The news last week that Chichester is looking to recreate the Gala next year has nudged a few memories.

Reader Peter Few is delighted with the news.

He writes:

Oh boy, do I remember the Chichester Gala. It was a fantastic day for families. So much was organised for the occasion.

It all started with the sale of the programmes several weeks before the event, in which there was a competition which encouraged members of the public to look into the shop windows of the participating shops.

Usually there was an item in the window which the vendor doesn’t usually sell.

I remember one year, though, there were playing cards hidden in the shop window and another year there were anagrams of Chichester street names. Entries were put into a draw.

It was a great way to take in some fresh air on a warm summer evening.

On the day, there was a morning parade of marching bands and the Gala Queen and Princesses waving to the huge waiting crowds.

Cornflowers were sold in the streets to help raise money to pay for the event. I think, if I remember correctly, the actual Gala, which took place in Priory Park, started around 1pm.

The occasion was always a grand affair and an arena was set up in Priory Park where such events such as police dog tricks, RMP motorcycle display teams, and clowns, to name a few, all put on a fantastic show.

There was also a funfair, a large bingo tent and the usual fast-food vans, beer tents and ice-cream vans.

Some of the arena events were repeated later in the day for those who missed it, but they were so good I think most people saw them twice.

In the evening, after the shops had shut for the day, there was a procession of floats which were judged in the Cattle Market car park.

There were a large number of floats which took a long time to pass. I think an hour and a half or longer was not unusual.

The day culminated in a firework display late in the evening, obviously after dark.

I hope the Gala for the diamond jubilee is as good as the Chichester Gala was in its hey day and I encourage local businesses to do what they can to help this wonderful event to come to life.

I’ve longed for the Chichester Gala to return. Oh, what happy memories.