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Kendal Torchlight Carnival axed for first time in 42 years
SEPTEMBER'S Kendal Torchlight Carnival has been cancelled for the first time since 1970.
Organisers made the decision after struggling to attract enough funding and volunteers for this year's event.
The night-time parade of marching bands and spectacular floats attracts 40,000 revellers and provides a huge boost to businesses and charities.
But its future is hanging in the balance with no guarantee that it will return in 2013.
In a letter to sponsors seen by the Gazette, the Torchlight committee said it had been unable to attract enough money to stage the spectacle.
And the 120 volunteer marshalls needed to run the event legally have not been forthcoming.
The memo read: “Hardly a person who lives or works in Kendal or the surrounding areas will not have been touched at some time by the Torchlight Carnival.
“For 42 years, the carnival has excited children and adults alike and has attracted visitors from far and wide.
“Despite our best efforts we are unable to stage this year’s event safely and within current legislation, and therefore the committee has had to make the very painful decision that the Kendal Torchlight Carnival will not take place in 2012.”
Mayor of Kendal, John Willshaw, told the Gazette: “This is a sad day for Kendal.
"I’m disappointed as it has been such an exciting event.
“I certainly hope this isn’t the last we see of it and that it goes ahead in 2013.”
Town clerk Liz Richardson added: “It’s a massive blow for the town.”
Derek Armstrong, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce chairman, said: “It’s a great shame because it affects the local economy.
“It brings thousands of people into the town centre, not just residents but visitors, and the majority of pubs and restaurants benefit.”
Saddened South Lakeland District Council leader Peter Thornton said: “It’s important everyone focuses on what has been achieved.
“Everyone has done a fabulous job over the years and they deserve praise for what they have done for the town.
“When it started out, firms like K Shoes used to put a lot of resources into it.
"Workers would get the afternoon off to make the floats but those firms have now gone and that’s partly changed the whole nature of the procession.”
The Torchlight committee said while it would be ‘difficult’ to stage the parade next year, it was ‘hopeful of delivering a high-quality carnival’.
The letter concluded: “To survive, Torchlight will rely on the continued support of our regular sponsors, but we also need the support of more local businesses that benefit from the influx of people into Kendal for Torchlight - and we need more volunteers to help with the organisation.
“With everyone’s support, it will continue for many years.”
Committee members did not wish to make any further comment.