Rye bonfire pageant spectacular

Many thanks to all members and visiting societies who made Rye Bonfire Pageant 2018 such a success; despite the biblical rain, Patsy’s gang of valiant collectors raised over £3,000 towards next year’s event and local community groups!

The bonfire with effergy and boat, ready to be lit

This year we were fortunate to have been donated an old fishing boat, RX87 aka Alexandra, by its current owner and local bonfire member; she was built in Rye some 70 years ago. All agree it was a fitting send off; rather than ignominiously rotting away it was thought preferable that she left her home port vertically in a final blaze of glory!

In addition to our fundraising efforts; auctions, boot fairs, quiz nights, we have the hard working members to thank for all they do to create this spectacular event, not forgetting members of other neighbouring societies for their assistance.

Led by the Rye & District Bonfire Society banner, some 30 visiting societies from all over Sussex processed through the town of Rye with flaming torches, drumming bands, floats and walkers from local groups. Bringing up the rear was our dragon, Scorcher, and our symbol of the society, the burning boat.

Every year the goal posts get moved and more money is needed to put on such a Pageant. The whole night cannot be put on for less than £10,000.

We have many regular sponsors, individuals and corporate donors too, but rarely have sought support from Rye Town Council, or Rother District Council, and we are proud of that.

Rother District Council assists with the event with health and safety advice and guidance and the loan of the Salts for which we are most grateful.

Torches are lit

You are welcome to join us as new members to raise funds, dress up and collect, or become a marshal – we need you!  Especially the youth of Rye.

For information on how to join, or how you can help, please contact us via info@ryebonfire.co.uk.

Despite the appalling weather – the clouds opened just as the parade was due to start – and restrictions on some public transport the usual massive crowds gathered to watch the bonfire societies process through the town and on to the Salts.

The drums and flaming torches always make this a dramatic sight with painted faces – sometimes a little macabre – and many societies opting for 18th century dress, adding to the effect.

Never afraid of controversy, the Bonfire Boys effigy this year was the Prime Minister atop an outsize Marmite pot (love it, or hate it), relabeled ‘Brexit’. An old fishing boat was also being burnt in a hark-back to the days when a burning boat was hauled through the streets before forming the nucleus of the bonfire. This one, however, started and finished its final public appearance as a static part of the fire.

Scorcher, the Rye dragon

There had been comments among some of the onlookers that the rain would prevent the bonfire from burning. But they had under-estimated those responsible for it and as the parade, having chaired ‘Rye Falkes’ down to the fire, circled the carefully constructed mound of old pallets, wood, fishing boat and effergy, tossing their lighted torches into its heart, flames soon appeared and before long the fire’s heat was reaching even the back of the wet and chilled crowd of spectators.

Finally, of course came the fireworks. Each year the display seems to get better with rockets, stars, colours and explosions filling the sky. ‘Amazing’, ‘stunning’ and ‘awesome’ were some of the comments overheard. And then, suddenly, there was silence. The last crashing finale of fireworks ended, the fire was settling down to be a steady glow for the next few hours and the wet, cold but still cheerful onlookers began to disperse. The clear-up was still to come, but in the meantime Rye Bonfire Society could congratulate itself on an evening of drama, noise and fun well up to its usual high standard.

Image Credits: Tony Ham , John Minter .

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