THE carnival princess and the ceremonial mayor made a splash on the country’s only travelling log flume to kickstart the thrills of this year’s Headland Carnival.
With a 45ft plunge into the waiting water below, Jungle River is the newest addition to the usual fantastic array of rides set up on the Headland’s Town Moor.
Ceremonial Mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher and this year’s carnival princess Alysha Temple, 16, were the first on the new ride along with the Mail’s reporter Dominic Shaw.
But ahead of the Jungle River soaking came the most important part of the day, Coun Akers-Belcher and Alysha declaring this year’s fair officially open.
The sun shone down on the hundreds of families who turned out. But it isn’t just the daring thrillseekers who will enjoy a trip to John Murphy’s annual fair.
Mini-rollercoasters for kids and dozens of stalls and games also make up a packed site for the coming week.
“The carnival is a hugely enjoyable annual tradition for so many people on the Headland so it’s an absolute pleasure to be here,” said Coun Akers-Belcher.
His delight was matched by Alysha, who was crowned this year’s Carnival Princess at the Borough Hall on Saturday night.
“I come to the fair every single year,” said Alysha, who lives on the Headland and is starting at Hartlepool College of Further Education in September.
“I only entered the Carnival Princess contest for a bit of fun, I didn’t really think about winning but it’s brilliant to be here and to take part in opening the fair.”
The large crowd who gathered waiting for the official opening yesterday were treated to some impressive routines and moves from the Hartlepool Hawks cheerleaders and Nu Diamondz.
But as soon as the performances and opening speeches were over, children dashed to be among the first to jump aboard the rides.
Standing in the far corner overlooking the rest of the fair, Jungle River attracted quite a lot of the attention.
Freddy Stokes, 57, who runs the log flume along with his three sons, said: “The last time I was at the Headland Carnival was in 1971 when I was about 15 so it’s fantastic to be back.
“Jungle River is extremely popular everywhere it goes so I think it will be just the same here. There are only two travelling log flumes in the UK, one in England and one in Scotland.”
Billy Freeman, from John Murphy’s funfair, said: “We change the rides and try and get as much as we can here and it gets better every year.”
A Headland Carnival spokesman said: “The weather has been kind to us and the fair is the perfect way to start the activities and events in this year’s Headland Carnival.”
Next up is the bonny baby contest and table top sale at Headland Social Club, in Throston Street, tomorrow from noon.