The sun was shining, and crowds lined the streets. Distantly, the drumming could be heard. Coming closer. A lonely unicorn floated up into the sky, caught in the drifting winds, pulling it higher and higher. People chatted animatedly and youngsters ran in circles on the grass. The drumming was getting louder, the sound of trumpets filled the air. Vendors sold balloons and long fuzzy worms on sticks. Over the tops of heads came the flags, always born by the local Squadron. They were the beginning.
This is Hedge End Carnival. Not unlike most carnivals that happen at this time of the year, but all the more important because it is my local carnival. This is my village, my home. I went to the secondary school here, have a job here, know most of the people here. Normally, quite a sleepy place, pretty much a crossroads. The traffic lights are the main attraction for anyone passing through. And yet, on carnival day, I am always surprised by the huge amounts of people our little village has. The streets are full to bursting. Everywhere you look, there are families, couples, people of any age, lining the streets, cheering on the carnival. The traffic lights are ignored: the road is closed. This year was probably the biggest parade I've seen, a huge amount of effort goes into it. Not only do we get musicians, dancers, stilt-walkers, steam rollers and ancient vehicles, we also get the local groups getting involved. From pre-school to the local church, dance clubs to circus skills, pretty much every aspect of Hedge End comes out to show off.
Never before have I been so proud of my local village as I was this year. That parade gave me goose-bumps. A lump in my throat. And I could tell there was a lot of love for our village. Children dressed up were so proud to be carrying the donation buckets. Spectators, myself included, were so happy to donate to those children and the causes they represent.
Once the parade has gone through, a surge of people (almost everyone!) heads to Greta Park, to spend the remainder of the afternoon watching a choir rock out to pop songs, whilst mooching around the stalls that line the arena.
Yes, I took lots of photos. That's what I love to do, and after spending the morning doing it, I was on a roll and couldn't stop. So if you are interested, the rest of the photos are here http://www.silverscalephotography.co.uk/hedgeendcarnival