Updated: Friday, November 11
Thousands of spectators heading for East Hoathly’s unique Remembrance parade tomorrow (November 12) are being urged to leave the car at home.
Every year, around 8,000 people pack the tiny village to witness an amazing spectacle as 20 bonfire societies honour the fallen in two world wars.
The ceremony ends with the burning of a 30ft high wooden figure and fireworks.
But for this special event, marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, parking will be limited to just 400 vehicles and visitors are advised to make arrangements to be dropped off and collected from the site.
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East Hoathly Carnival and Bonfire is appealing for visitors to leave the car behind this year as they head for a special remembrance parade on Saturday, November 12.
Up to 8,000 spectators regularly pack the tiny village to witness a procession involving 1,000 torchbearers, the ceremonial burning of a towering wooden sculpture, and a firework display, which takes place the evening before Remembrance Sunday.
But this year’s landmark event to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, will be conducted under stricter access arrangements and organisers are urging people to seek alternative means of getting to the site.
Stricter safety measures
Chairman of East Hoathly and Halland Carnival Society and its chief safety officer Tim Laker, one of dozens of volunteers from the village, which has been staging the carnival since 1919, said:
“The East Hoathly Carnival and Bonfire is a wonderful family event and we certainly don’t want to deter people from coming along to enjoy it.
“But as its reputation has grown over the years, it’s attracted more and more visitors by car from further afield and the pressure on roads around the village, including the A22, has become intense.”
On advice from the rescue services, organisers are restricting parking to 600 [this has now been altered to 400] spaces from the Shaw roundabout on the A22 at one end of the village and from Juziers Drive to the A22 bypass at the other.
“Once those places are full there will really be nowhere else safe for cars to park,” added Tim.
“Unfortunately, there is no bus service beyond 7pm, so we’d like to encourage as much car sharing as possible this year – or arrange to be dropped off at either end of the village from where it’s no more than a ten-minute walk to the War Memorial Playing Fields where the main event will be held.”
Arrangements for disabled
Blue Badge holders are advised to arrive early and speak to stewards about disabled access.
This year’s bonfire will feature a 30ft high angel gathering souls from the Battle of the Somme with newsreel images from the time projected onto the wooden structure.
As with the previous 11 effigies, the angel has been sculpted by East Hoathly artist Keith Pettit from waste timber destined for landfill. Known for his wood engravings and other work in natural materials, Keith cheerfully accepts the annual commission free of charge, knowing it will be ashes the next day.
“I actually love watching the sculpture go up in flames because I’ve built it for that purpose,” he says.
“It’s human folly to want to make things that last forever – nothing does. In fact, although it might sound odd, to my mind this sculpture only becomes complete when it is being destroyed.
“Anyway, I’ve done 12 of them so far and you couldn’t move in the village if we didn’t burn them!”
The East Hoathly Carnival and Bonfire will see 20 bonfire societies parade with marching bands along London Road, High Street and South Street.
Parade through village
The carnival takes two hours to snake through the village stopping at 8pm to observe a two minutes silence with the final grand procession leaving the Foresters Arms for the War Memorial Playing Fields at 9pm after which the bonfire will be lit and the fireworks begin.
Spectators will be asked to donate towards the cost of the event as they pass the barriers. There will also be charity collection buckets, with proceeds this year going towards the upkeep of East Hoathly Parish Church.