The night of the Epiphany is but a handful of weeks away. It’s one the community certainly looks forward to at the beginning of every year. The last trace of Christmas and the first celebration – with more to come – of 2020!
It’s called `The Feast of the Epiphany’ and every year on the 5th January we celebrate it with a cavalcade of floats, bands and the Three Kings – Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – slowly travelling along Main Street all the way up to John Mackintosh Hall. The pavements of our main thoroughfare packed with not just kids and their parents but with other adults and visitors too, eager to witness the spectacle and, as is the norm, comment on the quality of the floats rolling past in front of them in a tight fit between trailer and spectator! Whatever the view of those onlookers it must be said many hours of hard work goes into the construction of the floats, and the Cavalcade committee says whatever the contrasting standards of the decorated entries, the more the merrier. “We always aim to encourage as many firms, associations, essential services and even families and friends to get their thinking caps on as early in the year as possible and get working on an idea and how to go about it, culminating in the building of their float in the autumn or December and we’re always at hand to give advice and help where we can, including financially,” long standing President of the Cavalcade Committee, Eric Abudarham tells me. The boss-man informs me up to £1,000 can be granted to assist in the construction of floats, which is not a bad sum! Where to build your ideas has always been a headache, consequently limiting the amount of entries appearing on the night, but for the past two or three years Government has allowed the building of floats at the Midtown Coach Park which has turned out to be a fantastic space to build where quite a few trailers can be accommodated. “That’s been a great advantage. Also some firms and essential services have their own premises so that’s another great help, leaving more space for others. The issue that gives us a little bit of a headache is the lack of trailers and their `heads.’ There are some groups willing to participate who can’t acquire the required transport for their float. It would be good if there were more low trailers which would allow a 4×4 Land Rover type of vehicle to tow them along, but you know, we can’t complain. Thanks to donations coming from the GBC Open Day and others we were able to have custom built trailers for the Three Kings at a cost of £36,000!”
Work for the committee starts shortly after the Cavalcade celebration is over. A post mortem, if you like, is undertaken by those attending over a coffee, with the aim to iron out any difficulties experienced or issues that can be done better next time. The handing out of sweets has now, for the past few years, been done ahead of the parade and that has worked well. “Also,” Eric says, “visits to the hospital and two Cathedrals -including a pop-in-invite by the management of the Piccadilly Gardens Cafe for a quick beverage – are now carried out prior to the parade which helps to run things more smoothly with fewer stops and less waiting time for the crowds later in the evening. Thanks must also go to the two taxis provided to ferry our kings around.” So the next big meeting for the committee comes just after National Day when things go up a few notches as responsibilities for members are sorted and other matters are organised and ironed out, like who to approach for the all important judging that needs to take place at Casemates ahead of the word go. “Another issue that always comes to the fore these days is Health and Safety which is so important. That’s one of the reasons why sweet throwing from the floats was put to a stop as children were running out in front of the floats to grab the sweets.” And here’s another extremely touchy issue which has been highlighted by the fact Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been reprimanded for wearing black paint on his face a couple of times many years ago – on one occasion in character as Aladdin! The Three Kings came instantly to mind so I had to ask Eric how that affected our 2020 event. “We’ve given it much thought and we have engaged a Gibraltarian lad of Moroccan ethnicity to represent `Wise Man of the East,’ Balthazar.” Phew!!! Good news. We already have enough concerns with the never ending Brexit saga!!
THE `PRIZES: £1,000 goes towards the 1st prize floats in both the Senior and Junior sections with £500 for the 2nd prize senior float and £250 for the Junior runner-up entry. We’re just into November so there’s still time for you, a firm or association, a family or bunch of friends, to get started building your float for the next edition. 2018 and 2019 were a great improvement on events of the recent past with some excellent entries. You can ring President Eric for more info on 57586000 or at email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Therefore, let’s make this one even better. In fact make it the best… So who’s in charge of the paint, brush, hammer and nails?