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Manchester Day Pictures. And Comment

City celebrates itself. But should it have been timed with Manchester International Festival?

Written by . Published on June 19th 2011.

Manchester Day Pictures. And Comment

"The difference with so many celebrations and parades is that this involves so many groups  from across the board in the city," says Council Leader Sir Richard Leese. "There are schools, sporting clubs, different assocations, the emergencies services, social groups. There's something for everybody to be involved in."

But why is Manchester Day not timed to be held during Manchester International Festival? What's the thinking there? 

It's hard not to agree with him. Sunday 19 June was pure celebration. The facts are that 70,000 people turned out, or stopped and watched, as more than 50 floats representing 96 Manchester charities, community groups and companies celebrated themselves and the city. 

Manchester_Day_Gulliver[1]Gulliver on his travelsThere was a giant galleon, taken from the Manchester coat of arms,a massive Gulliver, giant dragonfly, space rockets, strange mythical creatures and even stranger musical creatures such as Morrissey, Heather Small and Liam and Noel Gallagher. 

The parade was produced by event organisers Walk the Plank, led by Liz Pugh. She told Confidential: "The enthusiasm of all the groups has been extraordinary. From the children onwards it's been a real pleasure and privilege to help achieve this with the help of very skilled artists. It feels like the start of a new tradition with so much love for Manchester.

"We had to curb some enthusiasm though," she continues. "FC United got very keen. They asked if they could bring 4,000 fans to walk the parade. We had to tell them that this would maybe have been a little too many combined with the other 3,000 participants taking part."

Pugh is right, this is the start of a new tradition.

It has to be continued despite the cuts. It is a new tradition that crosses all communities, is secular, and binds the population, particularly in deprived areas, to the idea of Manchester itself. It gives children and adults a sense of identity, it gives them communal memories. It gives those involved pride in their city - pride which might ripple out to others who weren't involved.

But why is Manchester Day not timed to be held during Manchester International Festival (MIF) or vice versa? What's the thinking there? 

Manchester_Day_Galleon_2[1]Manchester Day - here it comesIf the two were timed together - as separately organised events - then the communities of Manchester would gain greater awareness of MIF. And the latter would gain credibility from association with Manchester Day. It would knit MIF into the fabric of Manchester, efficiently and in a spirit of celebration. A virtuous circle. 

Maybe also Manchester Day should be over two days. One day in the city centre. The second day, a procession, back in the districts which created various parts of the pageant. Get the people who got involved in Manchester's fabulous celebration back on their own streets to show off. 

Councillor Pat Karney, who paints his face and joins in with the celebrations, echoes the thoughts about identity building.

"It felt like there were a million people on the streets," he said. "The atmosphere was amazing. Manchester once again came alive for the parade."

"One of the real highlights for me was seeing tens of thousands of children and young people out on the streets with their families enjoying the spectacle. It’s something they will remember for the rest of their lives and helps instil a real sense of pride in our city.”

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter here @JonathSchofield

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Simon TurnerJune 20th 2011.

Bringing the two together seems to make sense especially as MIF's 'Procession' seemed to be the catalyst for the Manchester Day Parade. But on the other hand why concentrate two big crowd pullers into the same time period? For the city, tourism etc it's better to spread the excitement isn't it? In addition, the Parade happens every year, MIF every 2 years so it could start to get confusing couldn't it, in terms of marketing and getting the messages across?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 20th 2011.

I disagree Simon. MIF needs a big communal public occasion to really be part of the city. The Pavilion in Albert Square is not enough. As for Deller's Procession, the idea for Manchester Day pre-dates it and is so much better, than that rather precious occasion. I think that we could make sure that the two work together despite MIF being every two years.

StuieJune 20th 2011.

Why does everything have to be at the same time? Why not have Manchester Day Parade, MIF, Pride, St George's Day, Whit Sunday and any other parade all on the same day. It would save money!!! NO! These are separate events and as such merit their own recognition.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 20th 2011.

My argument would just be for this one to be at the same time of course. You can't have St George's Day in summer, because it's in April. Pride is a totally different affair as well. Let's be sensible. The problem is that MIF has an awareness problem amongst Manchester's various districts. This way we can bring the arts celebration together with a wider celebration.

AnonymousJune 20th 2011.

Good idea to merge the two I reckon. Get MIF some notice in Beswick.

Star MancJune 20th 2011.

Stuie that sentence, 'Why does everything have to be at the same time?' has stopped me working to think about it. Given the Big Bang took place 13 billion years ago then Homo Sapiens' mere 200,000 years of existence means that on an astronomical time scale everything human has sort of happened at the same time. Wow. Big thoughts, big thoughts. Need a nap.

AlJune 20th 2011.

This was a really lovely event and a privilege to watch. It really did make me feel very proud.

Karen HJune 20th 2011.

Wish I'd come into town now rather than not being arsed. Laziness makes victims out of you.

Calum McGJune 20th 2011.

I wish I'd not missed this but was out of town. Looks fab - I enjoyed it last year, too. Totally agree about combinging with MIF on the years MIF is on. What a cracking focal point on one of the weekends it would be. I do secretly hope that MIF eventually becomes big enough to be on every year. That would be truly awesome.

Parade ParticipantJune 20th 2011.

Some interesting ideas Jonathan. It was great fun to do, but two days would be too much. Many of the groups included masses of children and it's a huge job, particularly these days, for the adults taking responsibility for them, often as volunteers. Your comment "Get the people who got involved in Manchester's fabulous celebration back on their own streets to show off." confuses me. The city centre streets most certainly are their own streets: they don’t belong to some privileged set of city-centre dwellers and businesses, but are public spaces belonging to all Mancunians.

Jonathan Schofield - editorJune 20th 2011.

Parade Participant maybe you've not read it properly. Yep have the city centre event because that is everybody's 'centre' but then take the relevant floats and so on back to their own areas and show them off. Why should the city centre have all the fun.

Parade ParticipantJune 20th 2011.

Jonathan, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Abstract the contributions from the ‘bringing together’ context and it’s a different message, a different celebration. I thought the original idea in part stemmed from the fact that in Manchester we had so many different celebrations for different sections of our communities: Manchester Day would simply celebrate the wholeness of Manchester.

JennyJune 20th 2011.

Surely having both celebrations together would magnify both celebrations, make more of Manchester Day and more of MIF?

Stephen NewtonJune 21st 2011.

The parade was great, but it's hard to see how it would fit in with MIF which has a very clear mission to promote new cutting edge art and culture.

The parade would dilute that and it makes no sense to have everything at the same time.

(And the parade needs to be every year to work while MIF is biennial.)

AnonymousJune 21st 2011.

But as someone says above, any visiting people to the city would surely like to see Manchester Day floats? Would make the city appear in touch with its own population. As for the yearly or biennial nature of things being a problem, hasn't anybody got a calendar? Can't we plan ahead? Cutting edge art is not the only thing MIF does. It also does a lot of re-hashing, Snoop Dogg, Yellow with Dave Haslam. What about the Damon Albarn Show back every year? Much of it references Manchester so why not run the two together

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