Something for everyone


Last Saturday’s (December 10) Christmas Festival “Tales of Old” had something for everyone – and lots for the children – despite the overcast sky, black clouds and the threat of rain.

However our recent resident, and Rye News contributor, Simon Kershaw thought a bit of the white stuff (snowflakes) would not go amiss.

And the “Tales of Old” organisers did not let him down, as snow machines blasted away as everyone left the packed St Mary’s Church after the evening carols – and there was indeed a touch of magic in the air.

That included the historic fairground carousel featured in Heidi Foster’s account of her day as well as Ed Boxall’s storytelling, featured above.

One young writer reads her story
One young writer reads her story
Magic Lanterns workshop in the St Mary's Centre
Magic Lanterns workshop in St Mary’s Centre

During my long day on Saturday, the liveliest place I visited was St Mary’s Centre with the Mothers’ Union firmly in control, and lots of children doing things – including eating their efforts – when they were  decorating biscuits. Also on show were entries to some of the many competitions organised for “Tales of Old” including some touching children’s stories of imaginary Christmasses.

Queens Head tog o' war team losing to the Mermaid
Queens Head tug o’ war losing to the Mermaid
Children racing to don Santa Claus outfits
Children racing to don Santa Claus outfits

As the day went on, the tide of people ebbed and flowed around the town as events happened, but the afternoon races (pictured above) certainly filled the High Street to Bonfire Night proportions.

Fine clothes for the procession
Fine clothes for the procession

The procession near the end of the afternoon, as darkness fell, was another highlight with crowds eddying back from the market stalls around the Strand.

And yet another high point was the evening carol service with some performers  gathering followers en route.

The main stage behind the Cinque Ports Arms was well attended for the various dance groups, as parents supported their children, but numbers dropped away for musical groups like the Wall of Sound. However, they increased when everyone moved inside the warmer St Mary’s to rehearse for the later carols, and the church was standing room only for the official service.

One missing person, though, was St Mary’s Rector, Canon David Frost, who had fallen off a ladder at an earlier Rye College carol service, was on crutches and was being cared for by his cat, Sylvester.

This meant he also dropped out of the” Churches Together” carol singing outside The George in the morning for which I was “volunteered” – before going off to have my palm read in the Sue Ryder shop. I was told I would have a long life and, at 74, was not prepared to argue.

Canon Frost did manage to officiate, though, at the wedding of Tim Lucas and Amy Casady which popped up in the middle of “Tales of Old” in the afternoon and which I attended, by mistake.

All in all, a day with something for everybody, but particularly the children. Kenneth Bird reports on the commercial reactions to the day.

Photos: Kenneth Bird

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