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Penwortham Gala 13 June 2009 part 1 The Afternoon.
I have lived in Penwortham for most of my life, and when I was a kid in the 80’s one of the highlights for me was being on the back of a lorry parading through Penwortham and then spending the day on the park trying to win a prize or eating far too much candy floss.
During the 90’s I outgrew the gala but when I moved back to Penwortham 5 years ago from Leyland I was amazed at the sense of community this event brings, and never more so than this year’s gala event. The weather was perfect and all morning Penwortham had a buzz about it, and by noon side roads were swarming with families making their way to Cop Lane for the lunch time parade.
My wife and I meet up with all our family then joined some friends in their front garden across from Hurst Grange Park. Standing outside their house I was amazed at the good feeling on the streets, and how everyone knew everyone else. I saw people id not seen for years, but on a day like Saturday you instantly pick up from where you left off. Kids were excited, parents laughing and then the parade started.
Watch a video of Penwortham Gala 2009 from Viva TV
I was impressed with the pipers and the marching bands – also the floats were excellent (the Star Wars one my favourite), but we did feel that the parade was a little short – could this be the credit crunch, is it difficult to get a trucker to work Saturdays with the price of fuel?
After the parade went past people began to make their way to the park. The park was the busiest I’ve ever seen it. The rides and stalls were really attracting the crowds, and my young niece loved the rides and I suppose that’s who they are aimed at. Also with the incredible weather ice cream sellers must have made small fortune. Next year I’m going to have a stall selling spray on hair colour as every kid on the park was buying the stuff and walking round with bright green hair.
After an hour we decided to retire to the Fleece for a few drinks – again very busy but I was a bit put out that they had run out of Pear Cider and didn’t have enough staff behind the bar, but again the sense of community in the beer garden was brilliant, and everyone had one aim to return to the park at night.
Penwortham Gala 13 June 2009 part 2 The Evening
By 6.30 walking to Hurst Grange Park, you could smell barbeques and see people gearing up for a night of entertainment on the park. We took a cool box and picnic chairs and got a good spot in front of the stage. Again I couldn’t believe how many people had turned out, families had bbq going on the park (wish I thought of that) and numerous groups of people carrying chairs and picnic rugs.
First on stage was the Blues Brother Tribute band who really got the night going, singing not just Blues Brothers songs but other soul numbers. As the park got busier I wished the stage had been bigger, but as it was donated I suppose it did the job.
By 8.30 the park was again heaving, noticed the usual groups of teenagers with bags of cheep booze, tattooed blokes with their tops off, groups of giddy girls and families sprawled out across the fields, but not once did I see any trouble or bad feeling. Noticeable Police presence, but everyone was soaking up the last rays of sun before evening set in. Sat around the park with good friends and cold wine is a great way of spending a Saturday night.
The Robbie Williams Tribute was ok – if the crowd had thought he was Robbie Williams as much as the performer did the atmosphere would have been brilliant, saying that towards the end of his set, people did get up and sing along, however if I had got up on stage and sang Angels – people would have sang along too. Did think the Blues Brothers would have been better going on second as they could have really got the place going.
However don’t get me wrong – the entertainment did the job and it was free, a good job Penwortham Town Council. In this day and age it could have been easy to have organised nothing at all, as Preston City Council would have done. Maybe next year the Gala could show case some local talent and even have a theme where everyone could dress up, but in a year of constant doom and gloom, the Gala lifted my spirits and was a shining example of what a community event should be like. It made be proud to be British and more proud to be from Penwortham.