Lantern Parade Tunbridge Wells photo Sean Aidan 04/02/17

THE call has gone out for more volunteers and funding after organisers were forced to bring the popular Lantern Parade to a standstill.

There will be no event in 2018, following ten successful years of the festival lighting up Camden Road in Tunbridge Wells.

 

After struggling to find funds and marshals for the event, CREATE (Camden Road Education, Arts and Theatre Experience) has decided to take a year off.

Group member Dave Prodrick said: “It has been so successful that we have to look at the safety of the parade and getting enough volunteers to make it possible.

“It takes a lot of work to get it up and running with costs of £8,000 to £10,000 every year and while we have our core members we need 30 stewards.”

Mr Prodrick said the decision was made to take a break and hold the next parade in February halfterm in 2019.

Around 1,000 people from community groups, clubs and schools take part every year with an estimated 2,000 lining the route from the Town  Hall to St Barnabas’ School.

Maria Biscardi, manager of Camden Road Italian restaurant Il Vesuvio, said: “We are very keen for it to continue as it is the only event that comes to this side of town.

“Usually events will only be in The Pantiles or town centre, so I am grateful to CREATE for this family event – and Italian people are big on family values – it is about creating a community feeling.

“We could all lose business without a community event. People have come to the Lantern Parade and said ‘we did not know you were here’.”

Graham Nokes, director of Camden Road printing firm Kall Kwik, said: “I think it’s a shame that it will not happen because Camden Road is one part of Tunbridge Wells that does not get the same kind of support.

“This event brings a lot of attention to the road and to the local community, one of our staff members has volunteered in the past.”

Mr Prodrick is now looking at various options in moving forward, including an active approach to marketing and employing a project manager with group members having full time jobs.

He added: “The whole reason we started it was to get people coming down Camden
Road and we want it to continue.”

CREATE is now calling on members of the public to volunteer or provide sponsorship for the next event.

To find out how you can get involved, email helping@winterlanterns.org