THERE will be no fancy dress, dancers, confetti, or floats to mark the 50th birthday of Royal Wootton Bassett carnival next month because it has been cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

Coronavirus restrictions, which will make it illegal for gatherings of more than 30 people, have forced the carnival committee to make the difficult decision to not go ahead with the event.

Instead it wants people who live in the town to decorate their houses, garden, or even work with their neighbours to decorate their street in a carnival theme on May 15.

Committee member Laura Patterson said: “There wasn’t an option at all to go ahead because of the Covid-19 restrictions. We couldn’t do nothing, it’s the 50th anniversary, so we came up with the idea to do a virtual carnival, we wanted to mark the day.

“We put the event on every year and it’s always the third Saturday of May, except for last year because that’s when the pandemic started. There’s usually a procession, an entertainment section in Borough Fields, and lots of activities, and people dress up.

“We had wanted to do a gold theme to mark the anniversary, but we will have to postpone that official celebration until next year.

“It was really sad and disappointing to have to make that decision because we love the carnival, but we were all on board with the reasons as to why it couldn’t go ahead.”

The first carnival took place in 1971, founded by members of the community, including George Scarrott Senior and Chris Wannell.

A Carnival Cup is handed out every year to recognise the efforts of people in the community. In 2019, it was given to John Macindoe and the town council's grounds team for their work. The year before that, it was given to town crier Owen Collier for his support of the carnival.

All the money that raised at the event helps ensure that it can keep going.

Mayor Nic Hughes said: “For mayors, the carnival is one of the very first public engagements that we attend in the mayoral year and it is a great reminder about the depth of community and the range of diversity that exists in Royal Wootton Bassett.

“We get to meet so many energetic and eccentric people and the wave of noise that you get as the parade enters the High Street both deafens and delights at the same time.

“The carnival may not run this year, but its spirit will be with every resident, both young and old because it is from the same source as the true essence of Bassett.”

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