Hundreds turn out for postponed Bognor Illuminations Gala fireworks

Fun on the pier on bank holiday Monday. Photograph by Neil Cooper
Fun on the pier on bank holiday Monday. Photograph by Neil Cooper

Forecasts of strong winds and heavy rain saw the 40th Bognor Illuminations Gala cancelled on Sunday.

The event was due to start at 8.30pm from West Park with floats and walking groups following a route along the seafront.

A spokesperson for volunteer group Bognor Regis Seafront Lights announced the news on Facebook that morning and said the decision was made with a ‘heavy heart’ but that the health, safety and well-being of all involved was their ‘foremost concern’.

The group’s firework display, due to take place on Sunday at 10pm from the pier, was rearranged for bank holiday Monday, with organisers saying it drew more than 1,000 people.

Speaking of the cancellation, Lights chairman Jason Passingham said: “Although the weather was due to improve by 8pm, it would have been impossible for many of our entrants to have put together their floats and other tableau during the day, and much of the kit they would have used would have been destroyed in the process.

“When you have been running the Gala for 15 years, together with the lights themselves, we always err on the side of caution when it comes to public safety.

“All the entrants we contacted, although naturally very disappointed, totally agreed it was the right thing to do.

“Unfortunately, due to the huge number of people involved in the procession, and also contractors booked and road closure orders etc, it was not practicable to postpone the procession.”

He added: “Fortunately the firework contractor and first aid team were available and the pier was happy, so we did our best to re-advertise and a crowd of approximately 1,000 turned out with just 24 hours notice for what turned out to be a very pleasant evening.”

Lights secretary Greg Burt said it was too early to know if the cancellation would mean the group would be ‘significantly out of pocket’.

He said: “We still held a street collection, thanks to volunteers, during the fireworks and we were delighted with the £317.82 collected during such a short time.

“It was heartening that so many well-wishers brought their bags of coins that they had planned to donate the night before.”

Ten new light displays were due to be installed on columns this year between the Royal Norfolk Hotel and Park Road and the organisers say they are due to go up at the end of this week or early next week.