RIPON’s annual St Wilfrid Procession is set to take place this weekend, with a brand new performer bringing the saint centre stage.
The traditional event will go ahead tomorrow, Saturday, July 30 with a new actor taking the part of the city’s founder saint for the first time in more than a decade.
Tommy Hartley has taken over the role from Peter ‘Bomber’ Duffield who played the part for 15 years.
The procession is due to leave Studley Road at 1.30pm, arriving in the market square for 2pm before making its way around the city.
A service will then be held in Ripon Cathedral at 4.30pm.
A new attraction will close the event. A firework display above the town hall takes place at 9.45pm as the city grows dark.
But there have been concerns as preparations have taken shape for this years event that it could be the last.
Chairman of the parade’s organising committee, Coun Andrew Williams has warned the future of the event is under threat.
Coun Williams said that unless people give generously along the route on Saturday, this year’s parade may be the last time St Wilfrid treads the city’s streets.
“It costs £15,000 to stage the event,” he said.
“And it costs over £3,000 simply to close the roads.
“Money is also needed to pay for the street perfomers and insurance.
“Whilst I understand that many residents are struggling in the current financial climate if we don’t improve on the average donation of just 18p per person watching the procession last year then it is difficult to see how we will have the funds to stage an event next year.”
The procession’s organisers rely on the donations made by spectators along the route to raise the lion’s share of funds for the parade each year.
Coun Williams also praised all the volunteers who give their time to make sure the parade is a success.
He said the committee were grateful for all the people who will be working along the route as marshalls, and collectors.