The Wokingham Paper

Winter Carnival off – annual event to have virtual element to help Wokingham charities and community groups

Wokingham winter carnival
Wokingham's streets were packed for the Winter Carnival

IT’S ONE of the biggest events in Wokingham’s annual calendar and signifies the start of festive celebrations for many, but the Winter Carnival is another victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

The street fayre with a fun procession and carol singing was meant to have been held at the end of November, but organisers have decided to pull the plug now over concerns that the virus will still be around, making it a bleak midwinter for anyone who catches it.

But organisers are looking to spread some festive cheer by organising a virtual event, which will be held on Sunday, November 29.

It is anticipated that there would be entertainment from the Berkshire Maestros, a visit from Santa and the chance to join in with carol singing, all from the comfort of residents’ homes.

There will also be a chance to learn more about the charities that would have had fundraising stalls at the event.

However, it can’t contain the traditional parade that sees thousands of people line the streets in tight formation to watch schools, nurseries, marching bands and morris dancers go past in floats and street displays.

There is also a special train carrying local dignitaries and MPs, as well as Father Christmas.

But it’s all on hold for 2020.

In a letter to Wokingham.Today, published on page 18 of this week’s edition, committee chairman Philip Mirfin noted that the popular event, which raises thousands of pounds for charities every year and links up residents with local groups, could not take place.

He wrote: “Our main concern has been around the health and safety of all those attending and the ability to adhere to, and manage, social distancing should there still be restrictions in place or we have a second wave of the virus later in the year.

“At this week’s committee meeting it was unanimously agreed that, regrettably, we should cancel this year’s event.

“We do not know what the situation will be in November but felt that it was a responsible decision not to encourage a large gathering of our local community at a time when we are still faced with uncertainty about the impact of Covid-19.”

He also wrote that the committee realised the news would be disappointing for both residents and stallholders, but hoped that the virtual event would go some way to making up for it.

“We are considering what we can do to bring this together to celebrate the run-up to Christmas once again this year.

“As our plans progress, we will make further announcements to keep everyone informed.”

And he added: “We hope to be back again next year with a bigger and better Wokingham Winter Carnival.”

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