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Mardi Gras comes to Eastleigh
1:30pm Monday 16th September 2013 in News
A HAMPSHIRE town came alive with carnival colour as a Mardi Gras parade swept through the streets.
Crowds gathered in Eastleigh to watch the highlight of the weekend as a procession brought a flavour of the fun and flamboyance of Rio de Janeiro – despite the overcast weather.
Exotic sounds from the likes of the Big Noise Community Samba Band as well as Eastleigh based twirling groups the Spirit Twirlers and Harmony Twirlers wowed onlookers during the extravaganza on Saturday night.
There were jugglers, jesters, clowns, a unicyclist, men on stilts and tandem bikes while the 27 groups on display were led by the traditional Mardi Gras “bull”.
Participants handed out gifts, including sweets and necklaces, to people on the route as is traditional at Mardi Gras events.
Hundreds of spectators came out of their homes as they heard the procession pass and joined in the fun.
This culminated in a finale event on the Leigh Road Recreation Ground with performances from the cast of Ah Men – a play performed last night at The Point theatre.
Hampshire’s online dancing sensation Ellie Cole, 35, of St Mary’s, who was captured earlier this year dancing as she waited for a bus in a video that then went viral, performed with them.
Debra Vincent-Marshall, 43, of Cedar Road, Eastleigh, with daughter Lexi, 6, said: “It’s been brilliant, better than I thought. It’s a lovely atmosphere.”
Sue Curtis, 59, of Cranbury Road, Eastleigh, had brought along granddaughter Olivia Curtis, 3, and surrogate granddaughter Skye Reade-Curtis, who had dressed specially for the occasion in Turkish outfits.
She said: “It’s great that someone’s put something on. I hope it grows.”
Organised to replace the old Eastleigh Carnival, organisers hoped the event, which is now in its seco n d y e a r , w o u l d continue to grow.
There was plenty to entertain during the day including belly dancing, live bands, workshops and free craft activities, a literary tent with local authors storytelling and the finals of Eastleigh’s Got Talent, though some events were called off due to the increased risk of slipping.
One of the organisers, Chris Thomas, said although the threat of rain had affected numbers, the event had still brought plenty of residents out.
The event came to an end yesterday with a science fiction theme with a fancy dress contest and an appearance from a Doctor Who lookalike.
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