Processing to day’s climax

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Great Expectations last Saturday, Rye’s special day at Christmas, built to a climax with the procession around town led by the Mayor in a fire engine, followed by Father Christmas in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and a wide range of people in Dickensian costume, concluding with the fiery breath of the Bonfire Society’s dragon.

The streets were crowded and the procession, while lacking the flames and the beating drums of bonfire night, had enough characters in costume to attract attention in the run up to the Mayor arriving at The George for various ceremonies – and then proceeding onwards to the carol service in St Mary’s.

Frank May and Darion McCann of Bennets the Gentlemen's Outfitters
Frank May and Darion McCann of Bennetts the Gentlemen’s Outfitters

“It’s given me a thrill,” said the Mayor, Cllr Bernardine Fiddimore (pictured above), “seeing it all take place, and all come together” and Frank May from Bennetts (pictured right in costume) said: “I used to be dead opposed to the Landgate being closed, but now I’m not so sure”. And Jenny Lauren Sinclair and Liz Pendennis, with their steady flood of emails, from christmasinrye’s Facebook page must be glad it has lived up to expectations.

The many who turned up in costume, including stiltwalker Hannah Auden-Gandolfo from Zenzero events in Tenterden (pictured in slideshow) and Frank (right) shows the support they got. But an all important part of the day was keeping warm – so the mulled wine went down a treat.

As Robert Dalton, from Rye Deli, also pictured in slideshow, said: “I’ve been kept really busy” – and probably the organisers, the marshals, the performers, the shopkeepers, the charities and certainly the parents would probably all say the same thing.

And indeed they did. Jill Wilson from the Pet Shop said: “We had a very good day for business. There was a lovely atmosphere in the town – just like pre-Xmas shopping used to be”.

Other shopkeepers reported they had had a fantastic day with increased or record takings and some contacted the day’s organisers at to offer their congratulations.

Photos: Kenneth Bird

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