The annual Alton Lions Party in the Park event draws thousands of visitors

The Alton Lions ‘Party in the Park’ drew thousands of visitors to the Public Gardens on Saturday (June 8) to enjoy the entertainment, including live music in the new bandstand, and to celebrate the 370th anniversary of the Battle of Alton.

Civil War re-enactors from 17th Century Life and Times put on a fine display, with a living history encampment, a march through the town, and demonstrations that enabled people to experience at first hand what it might have been like for Royalists and Parliamentarians fighting in the streets of Alton. It was a battle that left enduring scars in St Lawrence Church, after Royalist Infantry Commander, Colonel Richard Bolle were shot in the pulpit by Round Head soldiers under the command of William Waller.

It was a theme that attracted visitors from as far afield as Alton’s twin town of Montecchio Maggiore in northern Italy, amongst them two members of the town’s newly formed Lions Club, who were escorted into the gardens for the formal opening of the event by Alton Lions President, Sarah O’Donoghue, and Deputy Town Mayor, cllr Graham Hill, with a guard of honour provided by the 17th Century Civil War re-enactors.

A pink Cadillac, owned and driven by Four Marks resident, Tony Vincent, carrying Alton’s Carnival Queen, Chloe Wood, and Princess, Ashanti Chiverton, accompanied by ‘Elvis’ – aka Dave the Plumber from Bentley, followed them in.

Following the welcome by Mrs. O’Donoghue and response by Mr. Hill, looking every bit ‘The King’ Dave took his audience on a trip down memory lane with his ‘Echoes of Elvis’.

On a day blessed by the sun, the event had already got off to a lively start with MC for the day, Alton Town Crier, Stan Whitcher, supported by the PA provided by Guildford Lion, Colin Longley, and Mark Westbrook, aka ‘Mad Murdoch’.

Public Gardens groundsman, Peter Earp, with Trixie, and Paul from Symbolics were, appropriately, the first band to christen the new bandstand, built by Alton Town Council to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Symbolics kindly stood in as Unknown Legend were unable to play, due to illness.

Later in the afternoon, ‘Tripwire’ took to the stage, led by Paul Gizborne, playing the event out with some popular numbers and encouraging the audience to join in.

The park was full of visitors picnicking and enjoying the sun, with loads of

entertainment including Twistopher, who delighted the children with his Punch and Judy and Puppet Show, Charlie the roving clown, and a hugely popular demonstration by young Morris Dancers from Alton Infants School led by Head Teacher, Ann Foulkes.

There was Steve Cook with his ride-on-steam train, a bouncy castle, miniature golf, a host of stalls offering games and bric-a-brac, face and nail painting, an opportunity to throw wet sponges at friends in the stocks, a barbecue, tea and beer tent.

There was also an auction and a grand raffle, part of which was drawn on the day but with a second chance to win a staggering £2,000 when the main ‘Party in the Park’ draw takes place on Thursday (June 21)

Held in aid of the disabled youngsters who attend Treloar School and College, the event raised more than £3,500 on the day but with at least another £3,500 expected to come from the draw.

At the same time as helping Treloar, other local organisations and charities had the opportunity to raise funds and profile for themselves by taking a stall.

The Party in the Park is organised by the Lions Club of Alton and this year was sponsored by Alton Town Council, the Alton Herald, Molson Coors, the Newbury Building Society, the ToyShed, and First Exchange.

The Alton Lions have expressed grateful thanks to all those who supported the event and helped make it such a success.