Friday saw Stroud's Goodwill Evening and despite the drizzle it had a great atmosphere. Here are some of my photos from the evening that started with Keith Allen giving a little speech - he is the guy who played the Sheriff of Nottingham in the BBC series "Robin Hood" and lives locally.
Father Christmas helped Keith to switch on the Christmas lights, and mark the beginning of the Grand Venetian Procession around Stroud led by Gypsy Queen, the Cotswold Canals Trust horse.
Lis Parker in Venetian outfit (see pic above) announced the beginning of the procession - our Willow Elfin Woodcraft group of 6 to 9 year olds led the procession with their homemade lanterns - a couple of weeks ago we were busy making masks and lanterns in one of our weekly sessions in Uplands Hall - you can see my mask in the last photo below - the lanterns (see pics) had LED lights in them for safety.
Gypsy Queen, the old canal horse, led us off from the Sub Rooms - the poor horse got spooked by all the crowds and brightly coloured lights so only managed the first stretch down to Blockbusters from the Sub Rooms.
We made our way around the streets - a little smaller group than previous years - not sure what happened to some of the other folks who were meant to be joining the procession but the children enjoyed it lots. The weather wasn't too bad until we got to the Kendrick Street Deli - great shop - who had set up a snowstorm for us to go through - see pics.
On from Kendrick Street we looped around and ended up back at the Sub Rooms - that was when I discovered the free soup from the new bistro "Fifteen" in the old Crumbs cafe building opposite the Sub Rooms - totally delicious soup and wonderfully friendly folk there (see pic below) - indeed they are opening some evenings from tonight and open in the day - I can also vouch that the espresso I had was good.
The rest of the evening we wandered around all the shops and many many stalls - The Made in Stroud Shop were celebrating their 9th birthday as they opened on Goodwill Evening 2000! There were stalls everywhere, music, choirs and entertainments - I can't poss do justice to the evening here - the gift market in Cornhill (where the Farmers Market usually is) had many local artists and makers, fairly traded gifts from around the globe, the market cafe, the organic burger stall, Selsley Herb & Spice Mulled Wine and more.
There was also special Christmas markets at the Shambles (indoor and outdoor markets - see pic) and Sub Rooms Ballroom. I managed to catch a variety of entertainments from a magic guy outside to a harpist and various choirs - also saw jazz, face-painting, Punch and Judy....hey the list goes on and on...but especially loved the genuine 'goodwill' of this Goodwill Evening with quite a number of traders offering free drinks, soup or mince pies. Apparently there was also the S Factor finals but I didn't manage to find them.
JKC Complete Finishing Touch in Kendrick Street joined forces with Kendrick Street Deli to run a special fund raising event for The Gloucestershire Chest Fund to help asthma sufferers in memory of their friend and colleague Jasmine who passed away earlier this year. Jasmine apparently loved Stroud Goodwill Evening and there were various fund raising activities - from guess the number of sequins on a tiara to some wonderful cupcakes - still have one blue one left that has a wonderful snowflake design!
One highlight of the evening was the Christmas Tree Festival 2009 at St. Laurence's Church. This was the fifth week-long St Laurence Church 2009 Christmas Tree Festival and had over 60 decorated Christmas trees, displayed by organisations, businesses, groups and individuals from across the five valleys and beyond!!
It really was interesting to see all the ideas and thoughts - here are two entries - the first from the Global Bee Project which this blog has covered lots - indeed the tree was decorated with beehouses made by children - see my blog entry here - and the photo below was by Rev Barry Coker with a tree made from plastic milk cartons - looked great!
Anyway I'm rambling lots and just wanted to finish by applauding the live manikins who were in the YMCA Charity Shop - see pic below - although I have to say some were better than others at being totally still!
Anyhow thanks to all who made this event a great evening - what a great place to live!