Roll up, roll up, the fair is in town.
Rides, games and more have opened up on the Headland as Hartlepool Carnival, with the crowds streaming through the gates as it opened to visitors yesterday afternoon.
Before the event got under way, dozens of youngsters got the chance to try out the entertainment for free as John Murphy, 85, upheld his family tradition to give the underprivileged and community groups the chance to experience the hair-raising attractions for two hours before it opened to all.
The fair has been held each summer since 1923 - although was put on hold during both world wars - with the Murphy family welcoming other showmen onto the town moor to run their rides alongside their own 1947 waltzer.
Others set up include a 36m high speed buzz, which sees two cars spin round nine times a minute and is a newer version of the one which visited last year, ghost trains, a fun house, a sea storm ride and the Shockwave, which takes seated thrill seekers up, round and back and forth at speed.
Among those invited along to the preview was a group of 29 five to 11-year-olds from the summer play scheme being run by Jutland Road Community Centre.
This is the event everyone looks forward to, when we know summer is here.Deputy mayor Kevin Cranney
Centre manager Leslea Jackson said: “When they were in the centre during the morning, all they said was ‘When are we going.’
“It’s fantastic for them because some can’t afford it and some people have six kids in their family.
“They were all very excited to come and to go on all the rides.”
The launch saw three teams - Xcite, Xtreme and Xplode - from Hartlepool Hawks Cheerleading Academy in Moreland Street perform for the crowd.
Head coach Beccii Taylor, who has arranged for members to perform at the opening of the fair since 2010, said: “They love the fair and they feel like celebrities because they get to go on the rides for free.
“This is what they train for and we go to lots of event, but this is their favourite.”
Deputy mayor Kevin Cranney help lead the launch celebration, as did carnival princess Shannon Gough, 16.
He said: “This is the event everyone looks forward to, when we know summer is here.
“The Showman’s Guild have surpassed themselves again, bringing all these rides and entertainment.”
John Murphy senior is joined in the business by his son John, 63, who runs dodgems, daughter Alison Freeman, and grandsons Rory Freeman, 28, and John Murphy, 30.
The youngest of the Johns was on hand yesterday as the fair opened its gates, with around 16 rides set up alongside games including hook-a-duck and food stalls.
He said: “I think the people of Hartlepool appreciate this and all of the carnival.
“My great grandad started letting the disadvantaged children in first and we’ll keep doing it - my grandad’s made us promise.”
The fair will run from 2pm to 10pm until the end of carnival day next Saturday.
For more details on vents, visit www.hartlepoolcarnival.com.