LIGHTS will make Bognor Regis brighter this weekend.
The town’s illuminations gala reaches its 40th anniversary on Sunday just before a new section of lights is due to be switched on. Ten new displays will be installed on seafront lighting columns between the Royal Norfolk Hotel and Park Road.
They will replace the existing nautical features that are no longer working correctly and beyond economic repair.
The new LED features will be low wattage and cheaper to run and more reliable than the current non-neon features.
Jason Passingham is the chairman of the all-volunteer group, Bognor Regis Seafront Lights, the team behind the illuminations.
He said: “We had hoped to replace this section next season but it was looking quite bad. So, we decided to bring the scheme forward. It’s great to be turning these on the week after the 40th gala and it will mean that we will have done two new sections this year.”
Started in 1978 by the former Bognor Regis Illuminations Fund to help pay for Christmas and town centre seasonal decorations, the event was taken over on the demise of the fund by Round Table to help to raise money for local good causes.
When the Round Table folded, the event passed to the fledging seafront lights team to bring the event full circle with all the proceeds going to brighten up the town once again.
Lights’ secretary Greg Burt became involved with the gala in 1987.
“In those days, West Park was filled all weekend with activities and I manned the Welly Wangling Contest.
“Although that is no longer held, one thing that hasn’t changed is the magic of the procession – the floats, the noise, the lights, crowds and lots of happy faces.”
The number of floats has declined over the years. There has been a rise in the number of walking entries, trailers, bicycles and even motorised wheelchairs to mean this year’s gala is set to be as good as last year’s.
The flotilla, including the lights’ mascot, Billy the Bulb, is due to leave West Park at 8.30pm on Sunday and is sure to attract one of the town’s biggest crowds of its events calendar.
Tomorrow is the deadline for entries of floats, prams, bicycles or walking groups and the last chance to be in with a chance to win one of the many trophies and cash prizes, which total £275. Phone 07739 506275 for details.
In a new appeal, residents and businesses which line the route have been asked to enter in the spirit of the occasion by putting some lights on the front of their premises.
The procession will leave West Park at 8.30pm and travel along the seafront, Aldwick Road, West Street and Lennox Street before it re-joins the seafront.
Prize-giving will take place opposite the pier at 10.15pm straight after the fireworks at 10pm from the pier.
A funfair on The Esplanade will see it closed to traffic from today to Monday.