By Andrew Tong
THE Winter Lantern Parade will once again be illuminating Tunbridge Wells this Saturday night (February 4) – but after 10 years there are doubts about its future because of a lack of funding.
The event was taken over by the community group CREATE (Camden Road Education Arts and Theatre Enterprise) four years ago after several partners such as the Assembly Hall and Trinity dropped out.
CREATE continued to receive generous funding from Town & Country Housing Group but when that stopped two years ago the organisers have had to fend for themselves.
Now they are seeking a corporate sponsorship deal amid fears that they may not be in a position to hold the parade next year.
“It’s a community event,” says CREATE’s chairman, Dave Prodrick. “It’s something the whole town can enjoy. It’s very important that it’s accessible for all.
They ran a series of five lantern-making workshops at three local schools, St Barnabus in the town, St Paul’s in Rusthall and Southborough Primary.
These gatherings are currently supported by donations on the day and CREATE want to avoid having to charge for them in future.
“People really enjoy coming along to the workshops,” says Mr Prodrick. “We only ask for donations so we don’t scare them off if they can’t afford it. But it’s a delicate balancing act.”
This year’s parade will begin at 5.15pm in Civic Way, and will proceed down Monson Road and Camden Road, finishing at St Barnabus on Quarry Road, where a range of refreshments will be available.
The theme of this year’s procession will be children’s book characters.
The event was started in 2007 when local dramatists who were putting on a production in the lower Camden Road decided to light up the street, which had no Christmas lights erected on it.
They organised a parade from the town centre, down the full length of Camden Road, as a fundraising event for a community theatre production.
Then it was combined with the earlier Chinese New Year parade, and over the past decade it has became an annual feature in the town’s calendar.
If you would like to make a donation, visit localgiving.org/charity/create-tw or call Dave Prodrick on 07966 190428.