The group which organises the Bognor Regis summer illuminations has launched a public appeal to help keep the lights on.
Coronavirus has wiped out the fundraising events including the August bank holiday Illuminations Gala and in anticipation of their usual fundrraising events, five new bespoke displays were ordered in January for this summer.
However, ongoing lockdown and social distancing measures, which has seen many town events cancelled for the rest of 2020, will see a gap of approximately £4,500 in the cost of this season’s lights.
The total cost of the coloured lights which line the promenade this year will be over £20,000, but grants from Bognor Regis Town Council and Felpham Parish Councils, reserves and the sale of old displays will make up three quarters of the necessary funds, but the shortfall could put the future of the lights in jeopardy.
Chairman of the all-volunteer group, Bognor Regis Seafront Lights, Jason Passingham explained: “In all our 23 years, we have never had to ask the public directly for funds, other than through our usual fund-raising events and our Adopt a Light Bulb scheme.
“It is not a decision we have taken lightly either, if you will excuse the pun, as we are conscious that there are many good causes, health and social well-being in particular, that are seeking funds at this very difficult time.
“However, we know how much the lights mean to Bognor Regis so we do hope that residents will be able to support us with a donation, however small.”
The group has applied to West Sussex County Council for a grant and also set up a crowd-funding page via Spacehive. To donate visit: spacehive.com/bognor-regis-illuminations-2020 or via the group’s Facebook page.
Work started on preparing the lights for the summer last week, and contractors were due to finish servicing all displays this week. The lights will come on as they are checked, without any formal ceremony.
Lights secretary Greg Burt added: “Bognor has had lights along its seafront more often than not for about 90 years and can be proud that it’s maintained this seaside tradition, when many other towns have scrapped theirs.
“Weymouth lost its lights and residents are still angry about it, which shows that people do care about such things.
“Weather permitting, 2020 could be fantastic summer for Bognor Regis with many, if not most choosing to holiday in the UK, so it’s really important that we show off the town in a positive light.”