“Just wow!” That was the reaction from organisers of the reborn Chorley Carnival, back in town with a bang after an absence of 19 years.
Five thousand visitors flocked to Astley Park at the weekend – more than double the numbers that were expected.
The townsfolk really got behind the showpiece, where Emmerdale bad boy Cain Dingle, played by Jeff Hordley, starred as the celebrity attraction.
The weather simply couldn’t have been better and young and old alike basked in the sunshine to enjoy the array of entertainment.
It all began with a family funfair on Friday, followed on Saturday with the events in the park, including birds of prey, carnival royalty, dog displays and stunt teams, then more fun on Sunday, including an It’s a Knockout competition.
Carnival committee chairman Karren McCarthy said: “It was just amazing. It definitely exceeded our expectations. It was a huge success.
“We knew everybody in Chorley was going to come out, but we didn’t expect the numbers.
“We were looking through the photographs and were absolutely overwhelmed. We were in floods of tears when we looked at the crowds on Market Street.
“It’s going to be one of those photographs now people are going to go back to each time.
“We’ve had so many elderly people saying we’ve never seen Chorley so full, saying we’ve done an amazing job. They said ‘we’ve had our deckchairs out.’
“That’s what we wanted and we got it tenfold.”
Karren said she sensed something good was about to happen in the days building up to the event.
“The last few days, obviously family and friends said they were coming, but we were going in shops and people were coming up to us and saying well done, we can’t wait. Walking into coffee shops, people were talking about the carnival – it really started to hit us.”
Karren said the highlight was simply “the crowds”. She said: “We were expecting 2,000-3,000 people and we got 5,000.
“It was just – wow!”
Admittedly, she said there were some teething troubles.
“We made mistakes, which we’ll learn from for next year,” she confessed.
“We want a much bigger area for next year.
“And we reached capacity crowd so health and safety said we had to shut the gates. There was nothing we could have done about it. If we could have changed that, that’s what we would have changed. We were gutted. As soon as we could let people in, we let them in straight away.
“I’m really sorry and apologise to the people who had to wait. We will be changing that policy for next year. If there was anybody that was upset, it won’t be happening next year.”
But in the main the carnival was a huge, huge success.
“We had no trouble at all. It ran so smoothly. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend,” said Karren. “We were worried because we’d never done this before. Saturday went amazing, everything just flowed.”
And she had nothing but praise for Jeff Hordley.
“He was such a nice guy. He really went out of his way.
“We offered him a car to go round and he said, no, I’ll walk round and meet the people. He went above and beyond. We’re so grateful we got him.
“Sunday was just the best. Chorley’s Got Talent was amazing.”
So now to next year.
Karren added: “It was a first and we can only get bigger and better. We’re just two ladies with a committee behind us and we’ve never done anything like this before.
“We want it really at the same time next year. And we’ve ordered the sun for next year already. Watch this space – this carnival is going to get bigger and better.”