I spent half a day in Eastleigh town centre yesterday to watch Eastleigh Mardi Gras.
Traditionally Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday in French) is a Christian holiday, commonly known as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday in the UK. Mardi Gras normally takes place around February or March each year.
History.com features this educational video, which explains the tradition of Mardi Gras.
Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras – whatever you call it – is the last day before the period which Christians call Lent, a period of abstinence.
Culturally, Brazil, Venice and New Orleans are famous for their Mardi Gras celebrations.
Eastleigh’s Mardi Gras in September
Though the cultural and religious Mardi Gras 2014 was on Tuesday 4th of March, Eastleigh Mardi Gras from the 13th to 20th of September this year was a general community festival, without any religious connotation. Eastleigh Mardi Gras replaces the traditional Eastleigh carnival, which ended after 125 years.
This was the third Mardi Gras in the summer in Eastleigh. Hundreds of people who took part enjoyed the music, parade, food and stalls, train ride, outdoor games and uplifting atmosphere, thanks to the superb organisation by the committee and their wonderful volunteers.
The Eastleigh Mardi Gras 2014 charity is the Eastleigh Lions Club.
Let’s enjoy some highlights of the day:
Eastleigh Fusion Choir
I particularly enjoyed the performances by the joyous and dynamic Eastleigh Fusion Choir, led by Marie O’Brien. The Eastleigh Fusion Choir was singing with two ukulele bands – Winchester Uke Jam and the Coda Ukulele band.
The choir members really had fun. It was enjoyable listening to them singing at the bandstand. They also involved the audience. The joy through their voice and body movement was contagious. No wonder they pulled large crowds.
One particular delightful song was Stop in the name of love by The Supremes. Another one was Will you still love me tomorrow by The Shirelles. Do you remember these songs? ^
Other performances included Bat2k, street beats of Brazil.
Bat2k, formed in 1994, is a percussion group involving in performances of Brazilian rhythms principally street beats from the Bahia region. This is the Bat2k Facebook page.
Robbie the Land Train
Eastleigh High Street felt spacious and calm in the afternoon. No parking was along the street to clear way for the celebration. It was delightful to see Robbie Land Train driving on High Street from Leigh Road Recreation Ground. ^
Nick Coleman won the Mayor’s “Pirate King” award for best costume
The Chameleon Theatre Company from Chandler’s Ford shone again! The Chameleons are an integral part of the history of Chandler’s Ford. They have been performing since 1965 at the Ritchie Memorial Hall in Chandler’s Ford, and put on four productions each year.
Yesterday Marilyn Dunbar (Princess) and Nick Coleman took part in the Mardi Gras Parade promoting The Chameleon Theatre Company. They handed out flyers promoting their forthcoming highly-anticipated productions. ^
The Chameleons’ new productions are The Ladykillers (23 to 25 October), Wizard of Oz The Panto (23 to 31 January 2015), and Fawlty Towers 23 to 25 April 2015.
The parade, complete with marching bands, dance troupe and baton twirlers also had a pirate and princess theme. Nick Coleman won the Mayor’s “Pirate King” award for best costume. ^
Nick told me that his winning outfit was designed by Zoe Phillips, an ex-member of The Chameleon Theatre Company. The same costume was famously worn by David Wilkins in his role as Captain Hook in the Chameleons’ pantomime Peter Pan in January this year.
King of the Swingers by Acoustic Jass
In this Youtube clip below, let’s enjoy King of the Swingers played by Acoustic Jass in the Eastleigh Mardi Gras procession.
Fundraising for Eastleigh Community First Responders
The first people I spoke to yesterday were Malcolm and Lisa Wing, both Eastleigh Community First Responders (CFR). A responder is a member of the public, trained by the ambulance service, who volunteers to help in their community by responding to medical emergencies before the arrival of an emergency ambulance.
The CFR scheme is run by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) NHS Foundation Trust but it is funded by public donations.
The concept of Community First Responders originated in America from the work of Dr Richard Cummins. He discovered that if a series of events took place in a set sequence, a person suffering from a cardiac arrest had a greater chance of survival. These events are known as the Chain of Survival. ^
At Fryern Funtasia 5th May 2014 in Chandler’s Ford , I also met the Chandler’s Ford Community First Responders. Chippy Minton later explained to us the jobs of First Aider and First Responder in this post.
Malcolm Wing is a lecturer in Motor Vehicles at Eastleigh College and has been a First Responder for seven years, while his wife Lisa, a teaching assistant, has also been involved for five years. ^
Eastleigh Community First Responders are trying to raise £18,000 to buy a bigger vehicle with medical equipment. So far £10,000 has been raised.
Please contact Eastleigh Community First Responders to donate to support their important, life-saving work.
What is an AED?
The AED is a semi-automatic device that “shocks” a heart that has stopped beating correctly. Typically when someones heart stops working properly it reduces or even stops the flow of blood around the body, this causes the patient to lose consciousness very quickly.
The heart goes into a state where it is either beating too fast or out of synch and is therefore not pumping blood around the body efficiently.
The AED detects this behaviour and allows the CFR to deliver a shock that “resets” the heart which hopefully allows it to start beating in rhythm again. The units are foolproof and will not allow a shock to be delivered unless the unit detects that the heart is not beating properly. ^
From the website of Community First Responders
One Community made another appearance yesterday. One Community is an independent charity providing voluntary sector support, community development, day care, information and transport services in the borough of Eastleigh and beyond.
Jean was with Julia Allan, Head of Voluntary Sector Support Team, who supervises 160 volunteers for all One Community projects.
At the One Community stall yesterday, I saw a valuable Eastleigh History DVD, All Our Stories, being promoted. All Our Stories DVD is recollections and anecdotes from contemporary Eastleigh people intercut with archive footage, with special focus on the Railway Works and Eastleigh in World War Two. ^
The DVD was produced and directed by One Community, and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Eastleigh Mayor’s Charities
At Eastleigh Mardi Gras yesterday, my son and I also visited the Mayor of Eastleigh’s charity appeal stall. Three volunteers there were Joanna White, Jane Rich, and Andy Fedonczuk.
Each Mayor of Eastleigh supports nominated charities by organising various events to raise fund throughout the Mayoral Year. The Mayor of Eastleigh for the 2014/2015 Municipal Year is Councillor Tony Noyce, and the Mayoress Mrs Janice Noyce. The Mayor has chosen his charities: Cycles4All and The Alzheimer’s Society. ^
Wood fired Pizza lunch
My son and I saw a huge wood fired pizza oven at the Rec and we decided pizza was what we wanted for lunch. One Margarita pizza cost £5 but it was delicious.
The Wood Fired Pizza with Harrisons Catering was special. They prepared the dough and cooked the pizza in front of an open fire for you.
The family business from Stockbridge is run by Mike and his sister Kate Barker. ^
Eastleigh Mardi Gras images by Mike Daish