HUNDREDS of spectators turned out to watch the traditional bank holiday fireworks in Bognor Regis – a day later than planned.
The 10-15 minute display from the pier lit up Monday night to the delight of some 1,000 people who stretched along the seafront to West Street.
Those who arrived before the 9pm start were treated to an hour’s entertainment from Celebration Samba.
Its 20 drummers pounded out a series of rhythms in front of the pier to make up for missing out on leading the illuminated parade the previous night.
Gala organisers at Bognor Regis Seafront Lights arranged the last-minute occasion after their Sunday procession was washed out by torrential rain and strong winds.
They were rewarded with £317.82 donated on the night. Secretary Greg Burt said the group was pleased to be able to salvage a public occasion from the disappointment.
“I am delighted by the number of people who’ve turned out. This does show the effectiveness of social media to get a message out quite quickly to a lot of people that the parade was cancelled and we hoped to have the fireworks tonight.
“The fireworks organiser and the first aid man were both available and Celebration Samba, pictured right, were keen to come along as well. That meant we could stage an impromptu event – and the number of people here shows it was worth doing.
“I would expect we will be about a few hundreds down from the cancellation of the gala night,” he said. “We will have lost all the donations from the spectators but that is balanced to some extent by saving money on the costs of the night.”
He said he did not expect the loss to make a difference to the group’s running of the seafront summer illuminations.
“This is the first time in the 15 years we have been organising the gala that we’ve had to cancel it. We’ve had wet days before but it has always dried out in the evening.
“We had no choice but to cancel the event. Some of the entrants put their displays together beforehand and they would have been wrecked by the weather.
“The participants would also have been soaked getting ready for the parade and our name is on the health and safety documents. If a child was injured because a sound system blew over, it would be our responsibility,” he said.
It was late Sunday morning the cancellation was announced with south-southwesterly winds of up to 44mph and heavy rain forecast until 7pm and light rain for a further two hours.
A statement from Bognor Regis Seafront Lights said: “It is with a heavy heart that organisers Bognor Regis Seafront Lights make this decision, but the health, safety and well-being of all involved: participants, contractors and spectators is our foremost concern.
“We particularly feel for all those entrants who will have put so much effort into preparing to dazzle us…”
One entrant who still went along on Monday in his LED costume to light up the crowds was James Ware, who expected to be part of the Raving Roller Crew.
James, 38, of Middleton, said: “I thought I would come along and support the organisers and, hopefully, encourage people to make a few donations.
“People seem to like the costume and keep wanting to take photos of it. So, that has to be good.”