Loanhead Gala Committee has expressed regret at its decision to cancel this year’s popular carnival parade in the town due to a lack of committee members.
For many years Loanhead Gala has enjoyed considerable support from the townspeople who have attended and participated in events in great numbers, including the colourful carnival parade, which sees local groups take to the streets, often in fancy dress.
However, the number of gala committee members has dropped steadily over the years, with the 2019 gala celebrations organised and run by a committee of only six people– the lowest number in the long history of the event.
The committee has also highlighted a rise in the level of regulation and bureaucracy involved in putting on public events such as the parade.
Loanhead Gala Committee Secretary Anne Allard said: “The gala committee acknowledges that whilst many people will wish to see these events continue, there is an understandable reluctance on the part of many to take on responsibility for the extensive and onerous behind the scenes tasks which must be attended to.
“A primary aim of the committee is to ensure the continuation of the gala tradition in Loanhead for future generations. The committee members reached the conclusion that the best option open to them is to reduce the organisational workload.
“That will make the event more manageable for the current small committee in the short-term and hopefully create an event structure which is more sustainable and not so much of a challenge for others to undertake in future years.”
Anne is hopes that locals will continue to back Midlothian’s oldest and biggest Gala, first held in 1904.
She said: “The committee fully understands the cancellation of the carnival parade will disappoint many people. Many residents hold happy memories of participating in the event in their own childhood and it is a much loved event.
“The decision has been taken with much reluctance and sadness, but we hope it will be understood that after appealing for more committee members over several years, we were essentially left with no choice and the step was necessary to ensure the continuation of the Children’s Day itself.
“The committee members hope the reasons for their course of action will be understood and that they can count on the full support of the Loanhead public to ensure the success of this year’s Gala.”
Despite the carnival parade’s cancellation, the gala committee secretary revealed that there are plans to include elements of the popular event in the gala week’s main event.
She said: “It is intended to incorporate certain elements of the carnival parade in the main parade on the Children’s Day.
“So hopefully we can retain much of the fun and enjoyment of the carnival and reinforce the position of the Children’s Day Grand Procession as Midlothian’s largest annual parade.”
News of the end of the town’s carnival parade sparked sadness and shock in Loanhead when it was announced online last week.
Loanhead Community Council chairman Pat Kenny is disappointed about the cancellation, but he fully understands the reasons behind the decision.
He said: “It is very sad it’s not taking place. It’s a well supported event. Folk come from all over to take part and watch it. I’m very disappointed it will not be on this year.
“It has been going for a long time. It used to be a pram race before, to fund the gala day.
“Maybe this will give things a gee up to get volunteers, and get the council to help the committee to deal with the bureaucratic stuff, and maybe it can be resurrected next year.
“The people who are running it are all getting older and there is no new blood coming through to take over.”
You can read the full statement from the Loanhead Gala Committee in this week’s Advertiser, on our letters page.