Bonfire spirit burns brightly as Burgess Hill’s big night returns

Bonfire fans celebrated a momentous summer of history-making with a flaming tribute as Burgess Hill’s Bonfire Carnival returned in dazzling style.

Members of Burgess Hill Bonfire Society, which organised the evening, carried a burning banner with reminders of the the Queens Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.

JPMT. Burgess Hill bonfire night 2012

JPMT. Burgess Hill bonfire night 2012

And they shrugged aside the disappointment of having to cancel the 2011 parade by carring aloft the confident motto “Burgess Hill Burns Brightly” as crowd cheered one of the most colourful displays seen through the streets of the town.

Veteran member of the society Peter Wallis returned from a holiday in Yorkshire at 7pm and then walked from his home to support his pals

in the main parade.

Bonfire societies from across Sussex turned out in force to swell the ranks of the dazzling torchlit parade, including Chailey, Fletching and the joint Isfield and Little Horsted group.

Local groups supported the parade, including the Burgess Hill Marching Youth band, the Theatre Club, and the rugby club.

On a calm, warm evening lit by a full moon in a clear sky thousands of people of all ages shook of the long-running recession blues as they lined the route to admire the dazzling costumes.

Striped smugglers and elegant Aztecs mingled with charming maidens, powerful Zulus, red-jacketed troopers, and one group named Seaford Shags after the seaside birds.

Youngsters pestered their parents to buy flashing wands and some staged mock sword-fights as the crowd waited for the first parade to pass, from Cyprus Road car park.

Standing on the steps of the Lloyds TSB building in Church Road the relatively warm evening air was Burgess Hill Mayor Chris Thomas-Atkin, with other VIPs casting eyes over the passing parade.

It was rousing return for the long-established carnival, rounded off by a bonfire and celebratory fireworks at Fairfield Road, where the crowd also enjoyed Benson’s funfair.

And the spectators gave donations to the four charities supported by the evening;

Mum of three boys Kerri Smith, from Haywards Heath, who was raised in Burgess Hill, summed up the reaction of the crowd by telling a reporter as the parade passed “Burgess Hill doesn’t have a lot of traditions, does it? Personally I think it’s good this one has been saved, as I think we need something to cheer us up with this recession stuff going on. I hope people help them keep it running, my kids love it.”

Dougie Jones, an older resident who recently moved to Burgess Hill, said: “A few bob in the collecting tin isn’t bad for an event like this, is it? My grand-daughter loved the costumes. Lovely show isn’t it?”

The evening ended with a the sound of a fireworks display booming across the town in the still air.

Mr Thomas Atkin said:

“It was great to see the Bonfire event back this year. I know that the society has worked hard throughout the year in their planning and preparations for what is an important event in the Town’s calendar. It is always well supported and enjoyed by many, and benefits businesses in the town as well as raising funds for local charities.”

The fire banners marking the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympic and Paralympic Games were a fitting tribute to those events which have made 2012 a memorable year for our country.”