Tears of a clown ...but it didn’t rain on our parade

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They were among hundreds who dressed up for the parade as the curtain came down on a week-long programme of events at the Headland.

Clowns Matthew Brown (left) and Ryan Shears

Clowns Matthew Brown (left) and Ryan Shears

The storms failed to dampen spirits, as scores more turned out armed with umbrellas and wellies to enjoy the festivities.

Heavy showers failed to dampen the spirits of hardy souls who turned out for the finale of Headland Carnival.

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The 88th People’s Headland Carnival came to a close with the much-anticipated Grand Parade.

Miss Carnival Audrey Wallace and the Carnival Princesses led the parade on the back of a truck, followed by an array of fancy dress-clad characters whose costumes’ colours shone through the drab weather.

These included The Headland Disney Group, which won first place in the children’s group fancy dress competition, Barry Hodge, who won adult comic first prize as Lady Gaga, Jason Love-Gunn as Harry Potter and his brother Spencer as the Incredible Hulk.

Other characters to turn out in the heavy showers included the Village People and Sesame Street, and there was also a parade of vintage cars and the only float entrant from the West End Social Club.

The parade followed the annual Nutty Slack race, where strapping men hauled a 4st sack of coal from outside the former Headland Gate pub in Durham Street to the Borough Hall, in Middlegate.

There were four entrants this year, with Hartlepool Rovers rugby player Darren Smith finishing first, Colin Temple coming second, Michael Margates in third place and Ian Cook finishing fourth.

Dozens of people took cover under umbrellas to watch the entertainment laid on in the town square, which included displays by Hartlepool Hawks cheerleaders team and Teesside Twirlers, as well as music and war-time food on sale.

Carnival committee chairman John Cambridge, who has been involved in organising the event for 40 years, said: “People were saying to me ‘are we still having the parade?’

“I said ‘of course we will – it’s only water!’

“Hartlepool people come out no matter what, they did themselves proud.

“We have only had about nine or 10 rainy parade days in my 40 years.

“It’s been an absolutely brilliant week.”

Mr Cambridge said a band called Old Glory Jazz Assembly was meant to perform in the town square and lead the parade, but the rain had forced the group indoors and they performed in St Hilda’s Church instead.

Meanwhile, Billlingham International Folklore Festival also refused to be outdone by the rain as visiting performers from far-flung nations brought some sunshine to Teesside.

Although a Parade of Nations, from Northfield School to John Whitehead Park, had to be cancelled, the grand opening ceremony of the week-long festival went ahead at the town’s Bede Sixth Form Stockton Riverside College.

Performers from countries including Panama, Portugal, Georgia, Belarus, Serbia and Panama wowed around 300 people who packed into the college’s theatre.

Festival director Joe Maloney said: “The groups conducted themselves very well and some of our visitors from warmer countries took to the weather situation very well.”