1976 Ryde Junior Carnival Queen
1976 was a special year of Ann Barrett RSHG’s Research Team Leader, her daughter Sharon was chosen as Ryde Junior Carnival Queen, her Maids of Honour were Helen Scovell and Melanie Harris.
The carnival week started with a Whist Drive in the Town Hall, followed the next day by performances from the Massed Bands of Ryde and Cowes Concert Bands. The children’s and main processions both took place on Thursday 2nd September followed by a Victorian Soiree at the Western Parade, Ryde Esplanade and the Grand Carnival Dance at the Town Hall. The week finished with the illuminated Procession on Saturday 4 September.
Moving on to the build up for the Centenary year of 1988, it is interesting to note that among the committee of that period. Three names appear of stalwarts, still involved with the Association today being Gloria Minghella, Brenda Livingstone and John Steele.
100th Anniversary of Ryde Carnival 1988
The Isle of Wight County Press on 9th September 1988 reported; “Ryde Carnival Week more than lived up to expectations as something special to celebrate the centenary of country’s oldest carnival”. For the first time, the event was broadcast live on the radio by Ocean Sound, and featured the music of the Bournemouth Carnival band, Wight Legionnaires Marching Militaire, Isle of Wight Nautical Cadet Force Band, 1st Cowes Girls Brigade Band, TS Explorer Nautical Trainning Corps Band, 1st Newport (The Old Guard) Scout Band, Fareham Drum and Bugle Corps and the Isle of Wight Boys Brigade Band.
There were nearly 120 floats in the main procession on Thursday 8 September and over 70 for the Saturday night Illuminated carnival. Ryde’s past carnival queens had been tracked down and invited to take part in the parade, about 20 accepting. They were the honoured guests at a reception hosted by the carnival committee at Simeon Street, Recreation Ground.
William Gibbs and Gustav Mullin’s could not have imagined their idea would put Ryde firmly on the map as being one of the biggest end of season spectacles in the country. Who could imagine it has now reached it’s 120th anniversary year and is as popular as ever!
The next decade showed a small decline in interest for the Carnival and it became very difficult to run, in fact there came a period when it looked like the Association would cease to exist. As part of the regeneration programme in Ryde, which started in 2000, carnival projects were developed and managed by the Isle of Wight Council Arts Unit with support from Kinetika Arts International, Masquerade 2000, Mahogany Arts, Rampage and the Isle of Wight Councils own Carnival Arts officer Frankie Goldspink.
With a number of these carnival arts development projects and an increased enthusiasm within the town, the carnival has grown significantly over the last five years. In 2003 the Illuminated procession took place before a large crowd.
2004 saw a wonderful procession with many bands, the Queens from around the Island on their beautiful floats and the schools of Ryde, who excelled themselves with fine costumes and floats.
2005 took Ryde Carnival to greater heights, with more local schools and community groups entering the processions making them bigger and better than previous events. The quality of entries into the carnival was second to none and with the addition of our special guests Masquerade 2000.The special relationships developed with local artists and international artists look to take this wonderful spectacle to even greater heights during the coming 2006 season. The Ryde Carnival Association are now able to carry the carnivals on to bigger and better things with some new and exciting changes being made for the future.
2006 saw more local schools and community groups from the whole island joining the processions. Again during the Ryde Arts Festival Parade we welcomed International Carnival Artist Umberto Cinquini who with 3 scholarship students produced a small animated float “Paint the World”, this float also joined us for the Ryde Main Carnival. During the parades were were also joined by the students who took their Level 3 NCFE Carnival Arts Course the first in the country. We were also pleased to see a return of the wonderful Masquerade 2000 who provided a fantastic ending to both the Main and Illuminated carnivals. We had new groups visiting us from the mainland and welcomed Foxhill Carnival Club and Blue Angels Majorettes. Despite the weather we all had a wonderful time and would like to thank everyone who supported us through the day on Saturday even though our planned afternoon of entertainment was rained off.
2007 saw some changes to the carnival with the children’s procession being moved to it’s new day of a Friday, giving a straight run of three days of carnival. The weather was kinder to us in this year and we had some fantastic entrants to the carnivals. Again Foxhill Carnival Club and Blue Angels Majorettes joined in our celebrations, but one of the most interesting groups was Pure Lime who with The Carnival Centre and Rampage put on a traditional Mud Mas to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery, this took our carnival back to some of its earliest roots where simple costumes were used and mud (or in this case chocolate) to cover the body with allowing freedom from every day life. We also had some beautiful costumes from the Arts Festival parade which were designed by Lincoln Rahmut and Sandown’s Mas Fusion came and joined us.
120th Anniversary of Ryde Carnival 2008
The association ran the carnival processions in three days, the Main on Thursday headed by a specially commissioned costume “Celebration” designed for Brenda Livingston the Procession Officer, which headed the procession. The children’s was held on Friday.
Saturday’s Illuminated procession provided a fantastic finale to the 120th anniversary carnival week. A mix of the traditional queen’s tableau, local organisations and pedestrian entries with the new spectacular costumes of Mas Fusion community carnival group, samba bands and stilt walkers entertained the crowds as the parade wound its way through the town in style.
The multi-coloured procession included members of Notting Hill’s Flamingo Arts, Luton Rampage, UK Children’s Art Association and many local schools.
In a special tribute of the anniversary, the bands of Wight Diamonds, the Vectis Corps of Drums and Medina Marching Band marched ahead of the procession and stopped in the town centre to play together before leading the parade into Union Street and the Esplanade.