Big crowds cheer on 2016 Otley Carnival parade

By Jim Jack

Big crowds cheer on 2016 Otley Carnival parade

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ALIENS, dragons and some 1980s hits all helped ensure a successful 2016 Otley Carnival.

Dry skies - and even some sunshine - didn't hurt either as large crowds turned out on Saturday, June 18 to cheer on the parade.

Setting off from Wharfedale Auction Mart at about 1.25pm, the procession was led by Town Bellman Terry Ford and the City of Leeds Pipe Band.

The group's rousing tunes set the tone for what was to come - with other stirring musical contributions coming from samba and steel drum bands, Otley Brass Band and Tewit Youth Band.

One of the most popular musical floats was Otley Ukulele Orchestra's 1980s inspired entry - complete with symbols from that decade including a mocked up Now That's What I Call Music.. album cover.

The band's rousing renditions of hits like Take on Me and Don't You Want Me Baby went down a storm with the crowds, and had sections of fhem singing along heartily.

Among the many walking tableaux from local schools The Whartons Primary's Street Party entry, inspired by this year's Queen's 90th birthday celebrations, raised a smile.

It featured a very young Queen and Prince Philip waving to the crowds, followed by pupils and staff wearing Royal family face masks and dressed as cups and cakes.

After being 'visited' by a real-life spaceman earlier this year, when British astronaut Tim Peake talked to pupils over a radio link, Ashfield Primary School's entry was always going to be 'out of this world'.

And so it proved, with the children and teachers dressing as aliens and astronauts with one pupil 'floating along' in the middle inside a silver spaceship.

Otley Parish Scouts, meanwhile, continued their tradition of creating an amazing looking vehicle for their tableau - this time in the form of a friendly black dragon.

The Scouts following behind were dressed as Vikings to complement the How to Train Your Dragon theme.

Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon), who was one of the parade stewards, said afterwards: "The parade was absolutely fantastic this year, one of the best I think.

"It's difficult to pick a favourite from the entries because they were all really good."

Other school entries that stood out included Menston Primary School's Otley and Brazil float, inspired by the forthcoming Olympic Games in Rio, and St Joseph's Catholic Primary's We're All Superheroes theme - featuring plenty of Spiderman and Superman costumes.

Prince Henry's Grammar School, meanwhile, had a float decorated like a jungle from where the school band, dressed as animals, were knocking out classical versions of hits like The Bare Necessities.

And campaign group Friends of Otley Lido got involved this year too, blowing bubbles as they carried their Help Us Make A Splash message through the crowds.

Among those enjoying the further treats lined up at the Carnival Field, on Bridge End, was Otley Town Council Chairman Councillor Ray Georgeson, who had been supporting his children in the Ashfield Primary parade entry.

He said: "It has been brilliant.

"There has been a lovely atmosphere and I think my favourite from the parade, apart from Ashfield's aliens and astronauts, has to be the ukulele band who were just great."

On the field there were giant inflatables, stalls, fairground rides, Punch and Judy shows and some fundraising crockery smashing, courtesy of Otley Lions.

New Carnival Queen Olivia Bradford, taking over from retiring Queen Olivia Driver, also addressed the crowds who were treated to a display by Yeadon Air Cadets and H&M Fire Dogs.

The dog demonstration treated the audience to an exhibition involving a variety of breeds jumping through hoops, retrieving weights, performing long jumps and leaping through flaming rings.