There was no marching in Ripon today as celebrations of the city’s patron Saint Wilfrid had to be significantly scaled down because of social distancing requirements.
The procession around the streets traditionally in step to the music of Ripon City Band, along with accompanying children’s funfair on Market Place, Morris Dancing and a service in the cathedral, were all cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, some citizens were still determined to ensure that a celebration of St Wilfrid would still go ahead, albeit in a reduced form.
For Pearl Abbot, the loss of this year’s procession came as a great disappointment, as she has been actively involved in the event for 30 years – many of which saw her working within a team to create elaborate themed floats for Ripon power contractor FB Taylor of Dallamires Lane.
Mrs Abbot told the Stray Ferret:
“I was sad when I heard that the procession could not go ahead this year. With it also being Yorkshire Day, my friend Val and I had planned to go along wearing costumes designed out of the Yorkshire Flag.”
With no city-wide celebrations this year, Mrs Abbot decided to transform the front garden and fencing at her home in Quarry Moor Lane, Ripon, into a carnival-style display featuring yellow, blue and white balloons, flags, hand-made paper flowers and an extensive exhibition of photographs from processions held in previous years.
She hoped the display, assembled with help from granddaughter Joanne, would provide an enjoyable walk down memory lane for passers by. It will be in place over the remainder of the weekend.
Like the Hornblower’s nightly ceremony, which has been temporarily forced to take place behind closed doors and May’s VE Day 75th Anniversary Celebrations, activities had to be limited to protect public safety.
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Ripon City Swimming Club, which usually has a float in the annual procession, erected a static display at the Spa Baths, with the message ‘Just Keep Swimming’ and not far away, in Church Street, Ripon Morris Dancers Band provided socially distanced entertainment.
The musicians, along with dancers, have been taking part in the St Wilfrid’s day event since 1983.