May Day 2009 – video report included
Knutsford began it’s Royal May Day preparation with the hanging of the red, white and blue bunting along the towns main streets, setting the visual for the festival. The traditional setup then continued from early on the Saturday morning as Knutsford geared up for the special day, with the sanding of mottoes and patterns on the pavements outside many of the towns old buildings.
The anticipation began building from about 1pm as the streets began filling with people eager to catch a glimpse of the new May Queen Katie Smith. The route was lined with hundreds of excited parents jostling with each other to spot their child among those involved in this annual event. Many of the town’s shops closed to allow staff to enjoy this unique day, especially as few among the crowds in Knutsford had shopping on their minds at this point. Lucky again with the weather, both spectators and those taking part wore wide smiles as they enjoyed the procession.
The Royal May Day procession is “the” highlight in the Knutsford calendar and has been since around 1864. In 1887 the Prince of Wales imparted the prefix “Royal” to the event giving it a more elevated regal status, which Knutsford wears with enormous pride. This year Shadow Chancellor, and Tatton MP, George Osborne’s children took part in the festivities for the first time, and with what appeared to be the longest parade in recent history, the crowds wait was certainly rewarded.
Everyone cheered as the many floats, marching bands, morris dancers and school groups worked their way along King Street, led as always by The Green Man, with the May Queen waving as she was driven down the roads in the traditional carriage.
Many newcomers to the event, including Cheshire FM who ran a live broadcast from Cotton Shop Yard, remarked on the buzz the day brings and the sheer level of support from the locals and out of town visitors. The behind the scenes effort is a year long activity, involving many volunteers and the local police, working to ensure the day runs as smoothly as possible.
As may be expected it is not easy nor cheap to hold such an event, including the need for extra police, drafted in from other areas. With so many people to control the police normally have their work cut out, especially when closing the A50 and redirecting traffic for over two hours. “The day has passed without any trouble or issue” remarked inspector Kate Woods at around 4:15pm. The cost for the whole day runs into the tens of thousands, much of which has to be rasied through donations.
Each year sees a cost increase for holding the event, but through hard work and good will the organisers manage to pull it off well. Royal May Day makes the town shine and needs to continue as the key calendar event in Knutsford’s year. No doubt plannig is well underway for next year!