Wave of love for Hartlepool's Waterfront Festival as families join in first day of weekend celebration
Hartlepool’s own Michael Rice helped the first day of the town’s Waterfront Festival rock out as organisers praised families for their joining in the fun.
His performance on the #lovehartlepool stage included his next single, his version of Proud Mary, which won him victory through the BBC One talent search show All Together Now, and his Eurovision track Bigger Than Us.
He headlined the opening day of the event, which will resume at noon tomorrow at the town’s marina and run until early evening.
The day ended with warm bright sunshine, but had faced heavy downpour earlier in the day.
But the organisers said it did not keep people back from having a good time as they filled the waterside spot for the performances from live acts covering genres including soul, pop and rap, choirs, an orchestra and Shoot Your Mouth Off, which brings together people with disabilities.
The House of Love stage brought together a bill featuring drag, poetry, cabaret, spoken word, brass musicians, folk music and songs created from stories from migrants and refugees seeking peace in the North East.
A programme of workshops also welcomed visitors, covering skills including film making, crafts, haiku writing, proggy mat making, puppet making, creating inventions and print making, while a series of theatre pieces were put on show.
OnWater, which is based in the marina, is also offering people the chance to try out open water swimming, stand up paddle boarding and is putting on jet ski and fly boarding demonstrations during the weekend.
Aaron Bowman, cultural officer for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “As the weather got colder earlier on, the atmosphere got warmer, there were kids dancing around in puddles and it didn’t put people off.
“This year there’s a lot of participatory stuff going on and it gives them the chance to get really creative and that was a conscious decision, to give the people of Hartlepool ownership of the festival.
“Tomorrow's festival is going to have a lot better weather, so we’re looking forward to it.”
The grand finale of Sunday’s celebration will be the appearance of a 25ft high puppet in the theatre show The Healing of Branm which will follow a parade at 5pm.
Aaron added a Pay What You Decide scheme, where people can make donations towards additional workshops for children and young people at next year’s festival, had also been launched to give visitors a way of investing in its future.
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He added his thanks to sponsors Racz, Domino’s, Thirteen Group and developer Seymour.
Among those to enjoy the launch day’s activities was Suzanne Holliday, 33, who lives nearby with husband Dean, 33, and their children Kacie, eight, Lexie, six, Edie, four, and Eivin, one, as well as Dean’s parents Janet, 53, and Kevin, 56.
She said: “We’ve really enjoyed watching what’s been on the main stage but we also really liked Shout Your Mouth Off, who are a disabled group who want to show awareness in the town they live in.
“It’s been a good day out and we’ve been looking forward to seeing Michael Rice.”
Michael, who performed Proud Mary for a second time after demands from the audience, said he was delighted to play a home town gig once again.
Ahead of his set, he said: “I’m really excited to be here and to sing to a home crowd as well.
“It’s been good watching some of the other acts perform as well.
“It’s got a nice atmosphere, people are enjoying it.”
He is due to perform at Northern Pride in Newcastle tomorrow.