THE identity of the effigy due to be burnt at this weekend’s Eastbourne bonfire remains a closely guarded secret with organisers determined to keep it a surprise for Saturday night.
As is bonfire tradition, each year the Eastbourne Bonfire Society mocks up a model of something which has been unpopular or contentious locally over the last 12 months and sets fire to it at the climax of the event.
In nearby East Sussex towns like Hastings and Lewes, the burning of the effigy is eagerly anticipated and the main part of proceedings and, although it is not quite as central to the celebrations in Eastbourne, the identity of the sacrificial model is still a topic of much local debate.
Gazette readers have been making their own suggestions as to what should be represented on top of the pyre, with local Lib Dem MP Stephen Lloyd and Eastbourne Borough Council among the ideas.
However, anyone wanting to know what the bonfire boys have gone with will have to wait until Saturday evening after a planned procession involving visiting societies from all over the south.
Starting at Fisherman’s Green at 7.30pm the march will include drummers, pipers, dancers and a stack of local bonfire societies all keen to show off their colours in front of what is expected to be a bumper crowd.
The event runs until 9pm and will conclude with a display of fire juggling and a firework extravaganza, with the mystery effigy set alight at the bonfire which will be set up between the bandstand and the Wish Tower site.
As in previous years, the night has been funded by the society with the support of local people.
A spokesman for the society told the Gazette, “It is very much an event run by the community for the community. This year we will be raising funds on the night for Demelza Children’s Hospice, Canine Partners and WRAS.
“So, we invite the good people of Eastbourne to join us in our celebration of community and the Sussex bonfire tradition.
“If you would like to volunteer to shake a bucket, please contact Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org. If not, please give generously and keep our charities and our traditions alive.”
Locals responded brilliantly to similar calls from organisers of this year’s Airbourne event and the bonfire society and its charities will be hoping revellers get behind the event, which was re-started in 2001.