Colourful crew parade hits Sunderland streets as city celebrates Tall Ships

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It was mad, it was loud, it was wet and it was amazing.

The Tall Ships crew parade hit Sunderland and the city embraced one of the biggest and most colourful festivals it has ever seen.

What an astonishing mix of fun and craziness it was as more than 1,000 people paraded through the city and provided free entertainment for massive numbers of spectators.

It all started just after 3pm today when 50 Hell’s Angels from Wearside led the way. They started up their engines and a high-octane roar filled the Sunderland air.

Craig, a member of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club Tyne and Wear, said: “It’s been fantastic to lead the parade. The Hell’s Angels have had a clubhouse in Sunderland for 40 years and are very much part of the community so it’s a great honour to ride in front of the parade.

“Our clubhouse in Hendon has a really strong naval heritage as it was once a rehabilitation centre for sailors after the Battle of Trafalgar and our room upstairs is called the Trafalgar Room. In it there’s a painting with a list of all the names of the sailors from Sunderland who were killed in battle, so we’ve always felt that strong link.”

The Crew Parade as it passed over the bridge.

The Crew Parade as it passed over the bridge.

Behind them, the crew of the Fryderyk Chopin got into the mood of the day by pretending they were motor bikes themselves, revving up.

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A man dressed in a mermaid costume stood yards from a 6ft 5ins tall bumble bee and stilt walkers hammered away at drums.

And as they moved off along Burdon Road, crews started their antics - doing congas, blaring on horns and vuvuzelas, squirting water guns at the people of Sunderland and lying in the roads pretending their were dying ants.

A spectator in his sailor hat during the Crew Parade.

A spectator in his sailor hat during the Crew Parade.

The crew of the Alexander von Humboldt roared all the way over the Wearmouth Bridge as they headed for St Peter’s riverside, with a mini version of their ship in front of them. They cheekily ran in and out of the other crews as they sang through Sunderland.

The sail trainees from the training ship Royalist led the whole parade on a giant Mexican wave with crowds joining in.

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And the sailors from other ships such as Loa, Morgenster, Dyrafjeld, Eendracht, and Mir joined in on a day devoted to fun.

Fun at the Crew Parade.

Fun at the Crew Parade.

And just to add to a stunning spectacle, the sun came out right on cue as it all got underway.