THE WEEKEND'S Accrington Carnival has been hailed as one of the best ever staged in the town.
Brilliant sunshine ensured thousands of people lined the streets to watch the colourful and boisterous procession, and the organisers, Accrington Lions, are delighted to have raised around £10,000 for local charities.
Carnival chairman Ray Pullinger said: "Obviously we are thrilled to have raised so much money but this is never our primary aim. The main thing is to give people a good day out. This is an event that belongs to the people of Accrington.''
The spectacular procession, which began from the Globe Centre and passed through the town centre before dispersing at Thorneyholme Road, featured 17 floats including one from the carnival's main sponsors Hambling Construction, five bands and six groups of majorettes.
The Carnival Queen Sasha Fort and Carnival Princess Summer Hyatt looked resplendent. They were joined at the front of the parade by the Mayor of Hyndburn,
Councillor Miss Win Frankland, her consort, Mr Ken Hargreaves, and the Mayoress, Miss Susan Haworth.
A float entered by Lord's House Farm Special Needs Centre based at Rishton won a £200 prize and trophy for the best charity float. Its theme was an ecological one and it was entitled Race for the Planet. It featured racehorses as well as various animals whose habitat is under threat.
The prize for the best trade float, depicting a caterpillar and a group of bugs, went to Accrington's Asda store. Its prize money will be used to support staff charities.
Members of Accrington Rugby Club walked along the route of the procession collecting money from spectators. The Carnival Queen and Princess, and other key members of the procession, were able to travel in style after BMW and Accrington man, Eugene Regan, stepped in to help following a last-minute hitch.
Saab has traditionally provided the cars used at the Carnival but this year the supplier sold all its open-topped models shortly before the event. BMW, which was already loaning one car,
donated a second vehicle and Mr Regan allowed the use of his personal open-top, which he agreed to drive in the procession. The procession was followed by a gala at the Peel Park School playing fields.
A host of attractions included a dog agility show, a Wild West adventure show, a display by Accrington Gymnastic Club and karate and kung fu displays.
Mr Pullinger said: "The gala was very well-supported and everyone there had smiles on their faces. Everyone involved in organising the carnival is now completely exhausted but we are glad that it has been so successful.''
The carnival crowds were boosted by people travelling from Blackburn with Darwen, whose own event had been cancelled.