What a turnaround!
Despite having to cope with high winds and pop star pull-outs, Morecambe Carnival’s hard-working team of volunteers battled through the pitfalls and pulled off a major triumph.
Early estimates are that more than 50.000 people attended the weekend’s festivities – easily the most since the carnival made its comeback in 2014.
It has also been estimated that the total spend per head by people attending the carnival was worth more than £3m to the town’s economy.
Chief organiser David Brayshaw said “it was one of the biggest Morecambe Carnivals ever”.
Huge lines of spectators watched the Sunday afternoon parade of floats and then crammed into viewing areas to see live music well into Sunday night – headlined by big-name acts Martine McCutcheon, Toploader and Union J.
By the time of the delayed fireworks finale at 10.30pm there were still thousands of people partying on the prom.
Feedback has been mainly positive and Morecambe was packed and buzzing.
But organisers said it could all have been so different as there were major headaches in the run-up to carnival Sunday.
In the days prior to the event, two of the most popular acts – former JLS front man Aston Merrygold and Blue singer Simon Webbe – withdrew from the line-up.
Then strong winds on the seafront delayed the building of the main Bay live stage until Sunday due to safety concerns, despite crews having been on site since Thursday.
This pushed the whole programme back by around 90 minutes, meaning there were some complaints from parents that the fireworks started too late for young children.
Some acts scheduled for the smaller EDF stage on Sunday had to be cancelled.
Meanwhile local performers Stuart Michaels, Mark McKenna, The Bottlenecks, Sold to the Sky and the Lancaster Bombers, originally due to appear on the main Bay stage, were switched to the smaller stage on Sunday afternoon. Live music got under way on the main stage at around 3.45pm.
The viewing areas around both stages were crammed with people for most of Sunday and there were piercing screams of delight for acts including boy bands Union J and Yes Lad.
The weather stayed fine all day on Sunday, which was a major relief for Mr Brayshaw, whose team had moved the carnival from its regular May slot hoping for August sunshine.
“I’ve never prayed so much in my life (for good weather),” he said.
“Apart from the wind, Day One was brilliant. I was really entertained by the sheepdog trials on Saturday. At one point there was around 500-600 people watching that.
“Initial figures are 12-14,000 people attended on Saturday. For the weather we had, I think that’s superb.
“Everyone stepped up to the mark, staff, volunteers, everyone worked around the clock. We had around 70-80 volunteers and stewards, who went around making sure people knew what was happening.
“The dancing Stormtroopers act Boogie Storm were most popular, they went down a storm!
“We also had stilt walking faeries on Saturday who were booked at the last minute. They were very popular.
“A lot of people enjoyed the street acts. Everybody loved ‘Musical Ruth’ (the nun playing a piano) who was great interacting with the crowd.”
“I want to thank everybody who supported it and has been involved.”
The attendance statistics were compiled using five different methods including ‘clickers’ to count the number of people and the industry-accepted ‘Jacob’s Method’, said to be more accurate than methods used for other Morecambe events in the past.
See our Facebook page for video coverage of the weekend and for more photos see this week’s newspaper.