Ripon ready for city’s traditional parade

The Ripon Belles WI Calendar Girls float in the St Wilfrid's Procession 2011.  (110730M2u)
The Ripon Belles WI Calendar Girls float in the St Wilfrid's Procession 2011. (110730M2u)
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Ripon is preparing for its annual saints day celebrations with the traditional St Wilfrid’s Procession.

The parade will take place throughout the afternoon this Saturday, August 4, before a concert and fireworks display on the market square.

Floats gather at Studley Road from 1pm, and set off on the traditional route around the city centre towards the cathedral at 2pm.

In a change from tradition St Wilfrid, played for the first time last year by Tommy Hartley, will not wait for the procession outside the town hall but will lead the floats all the way from Studley Road to the Market Place, and on through the rest of the route.

This year will also see some additions to the traditional celebrations.

There will be a big screen on the market square showing the procession and coverage of the Olympic competitions, and organisers are hoping to emulate the success of the Jubilee concert, sponsored by Wetherspoons, with an ABBA tribute band and DJ on the market square, before the celebrations end with a firework display over the town hall.

Chairman of the organising committee and Mayor of Ripon Coun Andrew Williams said: “You won’t have a to miss a minute of the action in London with the big screen, as we will be flicking back and forwards to London.

“We haven’t had anything like the concert for St Wilfrid’s Day, but after the Jubilee concert I heard that The Unicorn had the highest takings of any Wetherspoons pub in the UK.

“I rang the company’s chairman Tim Martin and the head office, and they didn’t deny it.

“I suggested they might like to put something back into the local community, and they said yes.”

Organisers are hopeful for another successful event, after scorching weather for last year’s parade day saw the streets filled with families and sight-seers.

Coun Williams said: “Our biggest worry at the moment is the weather, the forecast isn’t excellent at the moment.

“We have enough money to stage this year’s procession, but the collection buckets on Saturday will be crucial for next year’s event.

“The money people give on the day is the base from which we fundraise for the next procession.

“Getting funds together is still a problem, but we are very grateful to Euraudit and all our sponsors for stumping up a large amount of money.”

And the day will also see a tradition Wilfra Tart competition, judged by the Mayor on the market place at 12.30pm.

The market square will also host small fairground rides for young children, although the traditional St Wilfrid’s Fair will not be in place this weekend.

The procession will also host family entertainment including jugglers and Punch and Judy shows, as it winds its way around the city streets from Studley Road to the Market Place, and along Allhallowgate where the floats and performers rest on Paddy’s Park, before moving on to Ripon Cathedral for a special St Wilfrid’s Day service which begins with St Wilfrid’s entrance into the cathedral.

Prizes will also be given out to the floats in various categories for youth groups, and first time entrants.

l The Ripon Gazette photographers will be out and about capturing the scene at the procession and we want your pictures too. Send photos to news@ripongazette.co.uk or tweet us at @RiponRover.