THE people of Horwich soaked up the sunshine and the fun when the carnival hit town at the weekend.

Town centre shops and pubs on the parade route hung their own banners and bunting from their premises.

That made up for the fact that organisers were unable to decorate the streets this year because of the high cost involved.

Even the police outriders at the head of the parade had balloons attached to the back of their motorcycles, as they entered into the spirit of the event.

At one point it looked like rain might spoil the procession but as the event progressed, the day turned to glorious sunshine.

All along the route, crowds gathered to cheer on the floats and walkers. Claypool Primary School were the overall winners of the float competition and of the children's organisation section, with their entry "Claypool's Blooming Lovely." Part of their prize was a cheque for £100 which is to go to a charity of their choice. Horwich Guides with their Alice in Wonderland entry were placed second.

And Tesco, with it's haunted house theme, picked up first prize in the trade float section with Fort Sterling runners-up. In the walking section Horwich New Heart Club, attired in huge red hearts, came first followed by Asda, who are soon to be opening a new store at the new Middlebrook development in Horwich.

Joining the parade were Bolton Wanderers players Scott Taylor and Stuart Whiteside, who crowned this year's carnival royalty - Carnival Queen, Nicola Plimley, Junior Queen Rachel Davenport, Princess Tanya Barrett and Rosebud Jody Marie Sneddon. Radcliffe and Prestwich Brass Band, Chorley Band, The Shawforth Majorettes and Horwich Morrismen played and danced along the route entertaining the crowds. As is their usual tradition, the Morrismen paused at the War Memorial on Chorley New Road to dance in honour of the original members of the group who lost their lives in the First World War.

The weather was disappointing on Sunday but in spite of the scattered showers the crowds still flocked to Old Station Park to enjoy the rest of the entertainment.

Unfortunately one of the young competitors in the five-a-side competition suffered a broken arm during a game and after being attended by St John Ambulance members was taken to the Royal Bolton Hospital for treatment.

The highlight of the afternoon was the Tug-o-War contest battled out by six mens teams and six ladies teams. The Saddle Public House won the men's event and ladies from The Queen's won their section, gallantly handing back the £30 cash prize to the carnival charity, The Children's Hospital Appeal.

Many new attractions were added this year including a children's pet competition which was won by the Greenfield's family dog, Becket, despite stiff competition from other dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and even a rat.

Another new event was the Greatest Grandma and Grandpa competition, won by Sue Rowley and Len Shepperd.

Carnival chairman Cllr Barbara Ronson said the two-day event was a tremendous success, and hopefully had raised a lot of cash for the charity. "This is a great community event. Everyone is good-humoured and most people enter into the spirit of the occasion. Very few people refuse to join in," she said.

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