It's carnival time as new boss behind festival aims to shake things up in Southend

Southend Standard: Plans - Garry Lowen Plans - Garry Lowen

MEET Garry Lowen, the driving force behind Southend Carnival who has plans to restore the event to its former glory.

Garry, who is Southend born and bred, is a co-owner of the Gleneagles Guest House in Clifftown Parade.

He has been involved with the carnival for the past decade, but this year has taken on organising the event and reigniting the town’s passion for the parade.

Starting in 1906 as part of an annual regatta, Southend’s carnival is one of the oldest in the country.

During the Seventies and Eighties crowds flocked to the town to see the spectacular parade of colourful floats created by local businesses and associations.

However, since the Nineties it has been in decline.

But with a new chairman and fresh ideas, organisers are hopeful it will be reborn as a must-see event.

The action starts on Thursday, August 7, with the Chalkwell Park Fair, with the celebrations culminating in the grand parade along the sea front on Saturday, August 16.

Garry, 56, said: “It is a massive project.

“In the Seventies and Eighties there was still a big procession through the town, but sadly in the Nineties it all dwindled away.

“We are revamping it and trying to give it a fresh look, but it costs about £9,500 just to put the procession on, so we have to rely on sponsors, whom we are very grateful to.

“It’s the largest community event in Southend. We want the entire town to come together – anyone can take part.

“Southend is a wonderfully multicultural place and I want to show that off. We’d encourage everyone to enter and show off their culture.”

The carnival used to start in Chalkwell and head east, but this year the procession will start at SouthchurchPark and proceed along the seafront to Chalkwell.

Garry said: “It gives more opportunity for it to pass through City Beach and for people on the seafront to watch.

“Plus, if we do it in the early evening then we help to keep people on the seafront in the evening.”

When it startedmore than a century ago, the carnival raised money for the town’s very first hospital, Victoria Cottage, in Warrior Square.

In 1930 the money raised paid for the general hospital and twenty years and it helped build a housing estate in Eastwood Road, Leigh, for the town’s elderly people.

In past years the carnival organisers kept all money collected by floats along the route and distributed it between their chosen charities.

This year floats will be able to keep their collections and donate them a charity of their choice.

Chalkwell Park Fair will run for ten days in August, raising money for the carnival, with three evenings of half price rides and a morning dedicated to people with special needs.

Garry said: “The view of the carnival has been that it is not as good as it used to be, but we are hoping this year will improve people’s opinions.”

Helping to put on the carnival is main sponsor SummerCare, an award-winning social care organisation based in the town.

Managing director, Dr Asif Raja, said: “I am Southend born and bred, I remember going down to the seafront and throwing my coins on the floats in the Seventies.

“It is a fantastic celebration of the community support in this town.

“The carnival has been left out to die a death.

“It is a responsibility for us to bring back a positive feeling.”

To enter the carnival, visit www.southendcarnival.org.uk

Comments (6)

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9:14am Thu 19 Jun 14

CarnMountification says...

Good luck ! as when this simple form of fun was popular we didn't have much more than the sort of entertainment as seen in the 1930's..
Good luck ! as when this simple form of fun was popular we didn't have much more than the sort of entertainment as seen in the 1930's.. CarnMountification
  • Score: 1

4:50pm Thu 19 Jun 14

emcee says...

Quote "... since the Nineties it has been in decline.
-
Which, coincidently, is when more sophisticate forms of enterrtainment started to take off.

The attractions and entertainments of modern life mean that modern society seem to be more hard wired into accepting only these more sophisticated forms of stimulation. It is really only the older generation who know what it was really like to be entertained by a procession of colourful floats and marching bands, and it is mainly those older generations who still dream for those golden days of summer carnival to return. However, modern generations just percieve carnival as a "tacky" distraction and just yearn to get back to their iPhones, tablets and computer games, when they can even be bothered to tear themselves away to attend carnival at all.

Carnival, although great in principle, is a victim of the modern, technological age. It will never, ever have the same attraction as it did forty years ago simply because modern society has far more entertaining stimulants available to them. To arm themselves with bags of 1p peices (or the modern day equivalent) and to watch people in fancy dress parading past just does not cut the mustard anywhere near as much as it used to do.
Sad as it for me to say it but the heyday of carnival is over and I fear that no attempt to revive it will end in success. It is a shame, and it is great to see people trying to fight for its survival, but it is inevitable that there will be a time in the very near future when it will be time to chuck in the towel.
Quote "... since the Nineties it has been in decline. - Which, coincidently, is when more sophisticate forms of enterrtainment started to take off. The attractions and entertainments of modern life mean that modern society seem to be more hard wired into accepting only these more sophisticated forms of stimulation. It is really only the older generation who know what it was really like to be entertained by a procession of colourful floats and marching bands, and it is mainly those older generations who still dream for those golden days of summer carnival to return. However, modern generations just percieve carnival as a "tacky" distraction and just yearn to get back to their iPhones, tablets and computer games, when they can even be bothered to tear themselves away to attend carnival at all. Carnival, although great in principle, is a victim of the modern, technological age. It will never, ever have the same attraction as it did forty years ago simply because modern society has far more entertaining stimulants available to them. To arm themselves with bags of 1p peices (or the modern day equivalent) and to watch people in fancy dress parading past just does not cut the mustard anywhere near as much as it used to do. Sad as it for me to say it but the heyday of carnival is over and I fear that no attempt to revive it will end in success. It is a shame, and it is great to see people trying to fight for its survival, but it is inevitable that there will be a time in the very near future when it will be time to chuck in the towel. emcee
  • Score: 5

5:00pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Nowthatsworthknowing says...

Carnivals of this type are dead, now bury it along with other mundane activities.
Carnivals of this type are dead, now bury it along with other mundane activities. Nowthatsworthknowing
  • Score: -3

6:58pm Thu 19 Jun 14

the25man says...

Would to bring back the water fight days of the carnival. That was when everybody got involved
Would to bring back the water fight days of the carnival. That was when everybody got involved the25man
  • Score: 1

7:58pm Thu 19 Jun 14

Salvo The Clown says...

Although I wish this year's Southend Carnival every success, I am very concerned over the desire to reverse the start of the route especially if it is to finish at Chalkwell Railway Station. The reason for my concern is because when I actually took part I was pleased when I got to the end, i.e. Southchurch Park, I was also mighty pleased the finish was on virtually flat ground as I was absolutely shattered but with it starting the other way round the organisers are expecting people to struggle up a hill to get to finish. However, as I expressed at the start of my comment I wish the Carnival every success and to those taking part may you all have FUN and loads of it too :-)
Although I wish this year's Southend Carnival every success, I am very concerned over the desire to reverse the start of the route especially if it is to finish at Chalkwell Railway Station. The reason for my concern is because when I actually took part I was pleased when I got to the end, i.e. Southchurch Park, I was also mighty pleased the finish was on virtually flat ground as I was absolutely shattered but with it starting the other way round the organisers are expecting people to struggle up a hill to get to finish. However, as I expressed at the start of my comment I wish the Carnival every success and to those taking part may you all have FUN and loads of it too :-) Salvo The Clown
  • Score: 0

10:16pm Thu 19 Jun 14

fredfoot says...

A friend of mine who takes part in the carnival every year tells me if you enter a float you have to pay to do so there are different taffifs cannot remember the prices.
A friend of mine who takes part in the carnival every year tells me if you enter a float you have to pay to do so there are different taffifs cannot remember the prices. fredfoot
  • Score: -2

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