Hundreds turn out for return of Houghton Feast parade
Houghton Feast is back with a bang.
Thousands of people lined Newbottle Street today, Saturday, October 9, to watch the Feast parade make its way through the town before queuing in Rectory Park for the traditional ox roast.
Organisers were delighted with the turn-out after last year’s celebrations were hit by the Covid lockdown.
Copt Hil ward member Coun Kevin Johnson is chairman of the Feast steering committee: “To see everybody lining the street and enjoying themselves so much is just brilliant,” he said.
"It is so nice to see everybody coming together as a community after last year. A lot of people are saying it is the biggest crowd they have ever seen for a lot of years.
"Perhaps after a year off, people are really cherishing it this year.”
Houghton Pipe Band led the parade, followed by representatives from local community groups, motorbikes, vintage vehicles and even a stream traction engine.
After the parade, people queued for sandwiches from the ox which had been roasting overnight.
Vicar of St Michael and All Angels the Rev John Barron performed the traditional blessing before Mayor of Sunderland Coun Harry Trueman carved the first slices.
"The parade was absolutely fantastic and the turn-out was amazing,” said Coun Trueman.
"Everyone is saying the Feast is one of the big things they missed last year.”
It was Coun Trueman’s second visit to the town in a few hours, after he switched on the Feast illuminations at Friday night’s opening ceremony.
The ceremony was a huge success, with crowds treated to live performances by Houghton Pipe Band, Zazz dancers, Houghton Area Youth Brass Band, and The Houghton Feast Children’s Choir.
The evening culminated in a minute’s applause for the NHS, followed by the switching on of the lights.
Lifelong Houghton resident Jill Gray, 51, was delighted to see the Feast return: "It’s just nice to see everybody together enjoying the tradition.
"It’s always exciting when Houghton Feast comes around, doesn’t matter how old you are.”
This year’s celebrations will continue until Sunday, October 17, with morning worship at the Methodist Church on Mautland Street.
The full programme of events is available through the event’s website.