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Eastleigh Carnival to get Mardi Gras makeover
The former carnival committee folded in March, blaming the demise of the week-long summer celebration on dwindling interest and an “uncool”
But a campaign to save the carnival in its 125th year attracted more than 150 supporters – and now a group of residents has formed to try to breathe new life into the event.
Organisers are already telling families to expect a different kind of carnival to that of previous years - with the event stripped back to two days, a change to the traditional August date and a Mardi Gras theme.
The carnival court, which is normally made up of teens and girls, will also be replaced with a more grown-up version.
Ladies in the town who are aged 60 this year are being asked to put themselves forward for the role of Carnival Queen, as a way of marking the Diamond Jubilee.
Chris Thomas, who is helping to put together the event, said: “As you may be aware, the current carnival committee has ceased to be after 124 years. However, a number of volunteers have come forward to preserve the concept of carnival while bringing a new, perhaps more up-to-date event to the town.
“This year’s carnival would have been the 125th, but it’s also Jubilee year, and with the desire to have a new theme as well, it seems appropriate to call this year’s event the Jubilee Mardi Gras.
“I’m happy that we’re keeping a tradition of carnival going in Eastleigh, and it’s as simple as that.
“We will keep the tradition while making it a new event – it’s coming on in leaps and bounds.”
Celebrations will start at midday on Saturday, September 15, with charity stalls and displays on Leigh Road Recreation Ground.
There will be a foot procession through the town that afternoon, followed by a picnic in the park and a finale during the evening, details of which are yet to be announced.
On Sunday, September 16, a table sale will be set up on the recreation ground, with performances from re-enactment group the Fort Cumberland Guard.
Application forms for the role of Carnival Queen, open to ladies aged 60, or a Carnival Princess, for 18- to 23-year-olds, are available at Argos and Hi-Style, both in Wells Place.
The deadline for entrants is Wednesday, June 27.