Observer Comment: What a golden show from two golden towns!

IF THERE was ever a better advert for Hastings and St Leonards to be the called the Capital of Festival Culture in this county then the visit of the Olympic Torch proved everything.

Never in the recent history of our town have its inhabitants witnessed the total euphoria caused by one little flame.

On Tuesday, the area was transformed into a giant communal carnival with a staggering 50,000 people taking part, more than half the number of people who live here.

They were of all ages and backgrounds, pouring onto the seafront and town centre streets in scenes sure to eclipse the biggest of royal visits.

And even the many exchange students and foreign visitors were bewitched by the sense of occasion.

A couple of teenage German boys could even be spotted running up Robertson Street in awe chasing Pete Prescott with their cameras before his torch had even been lit.

Spectators cheered their hearts out from the moment the Olympic cavalcade crossed into the borough on Tuesday afternoon to the moment it disappeared up Rye Road towards Rye on Wednesday morning.

And the entertainment was first class throughout the two towns with fun and games to suit all ages and tastes.

From bowling and putting at Grosvenor Gardens to acrobats and jugglers in Harold Place, the choice and friendly faces greeting people was outstanding.

Even running from event to event, it would have been impossible to get round to see all the attractions in one evening such was the amount on offer.
Despite the Olympics only being 60 miles up the road, Korean journalist Su-Jin Chun told how she did not want to leave Hastings. She said she was made to feel “like a rock star” on the streets of Hastings and was glad to have seen what she called “a real part of the UK.”

And the party goes on and on. Pirate Day on Sunday followed by the Old Town Carnival. From January to December, there is something going on every other week in our towns.

The old adage states the sun shines on the righteous. Well there was a shining part of the South Coast on Tuesday that will glow forever in our hearts.

Every Hastonian, especially the organisers, deserves a huge pat on the back this week.

A truly golden performance from two truly golden towns.