Town gearing up for bonfire celebrations

Adrian Pettitt
Adrian Pettitt

HASTINGS Week is set to end on a high note with the spectacular bonfire procession and fireworks display this Saturday.

Hastings Borough Bonfire Society (HBBS) will be leading the celebrations with a torchlight parade, a bonfire and the burning of the effigy.

Throughout the year, HBBS members have been making the torches, building the effigy and raising money to ensure the town’s bonfire tradition stays alive.

Tony Kerner, from HBBS, said: “It costs more than £15,000 to stage this event, which attracts bonfire societies from all over Sussex and beyond. Members from at least 25 societies will join the long procession, carrying blazing torches, lead by banners and giants and accompanied by drummers. Also involved are the Mayor of Hastings, Cllr Alan Roberts, Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd, the Town Crier, Jon Bartholomew, as well as members of The Ancient Borough of Hastings and The Cinque Ports.

“After the procession moves around the town, the huge bonfire is lit and the spectacular firework display begins.

The finale of the whole event is the burning of the effigy. It’s always a closely guarded secret, even from most of the society members, who only get to see it on the night itself. In the past the effigy has lampooned and commemorated everything from greedy bankers and the introduction of wheelie bins, to parking attendants and the Gunpowder Plot itself. An informative programme for the event is now available, including a map of the procession route, all for a suggested donation of just £1.”

At 7pm the beacon on the East Hill will be lit by a group from Hastings Runners who then return to the procession at the top end of Rock-a-Nore, where the banners of Hastings Borough Bonfire Society are lit.

The procession starts at 7.10pm, going north up All Saints Street, across The Bourne into the High Street, where it heads south to reach the seafront at 7.40pm. At 8.25pm it will stop at the America Ground where the Town Crier will read the Declaration of Independence. The procession will then continue down Robertson Street, turning east at the seafront. From 8.50pm at the fire site on the beach opposite Pelham Crescent the bonfire will be lit. At 9.15pm, Renegade Pyrotechnics begin the firework display before the effigy is burned at 9.40pm.

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day, Bonfire Night and Firework Night, is an annual commemoration observed on November 5. Its history begins with the events of November 5 1605, when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives plotters placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London. the introduction of the Observance of 5th November Act led to an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.