The rain held off for Light Up The Lane this year, encouraging a huge turnout. Dave Wallis, our Master of Ceremonies, gives us a unique view of the event from the stage looking outwards.
"As the 4pm start time crept up I looked along the Lane and saw maybe 20 people who weren't part of the PCA set-up crew. Stage Manager Jane Arnold-Forster was corralling the first of several school choirs that would entertain us during the evening, while I was checking crucial timings with the tree-lights and fireworks co-ordinators, trying to ensure that last year's near miss with the
lights wouldn't happen again. We need at least four minutes for the opening ceremony, but last year North Ealing School choir were so good the crowd wouldn't let them off the stage. We had under two minutes before the timers kicked in and the lights went on, but fortunately a compromise was negotiated: the choir would return after the switch-on, and after a few garbled hellos from the dignitaries we just about made it.
"By 5 o'clock the place was heaving. A crowd ten deep surrounded the stage, and pedestrian progress between the east and west ends of the Lane was slow. Needless to say, this year we had exactly the opposite problem to last year: a no-show, the drama of which slowly unfolded on Jane's phone ("You're at East Acton..? You're on stage in ten minutes!" ), which left us with plenty of time to fill. The choirs did a few encores, and we got the time remaining to switch-on down to six and a half minutes. No problem: that's a short recitation to our MP, Steve Pound, the Emir of Extemporisation and perennial leader of festivities at the switch-on, but unfortunately he had a bad throat and was finding it difficult to talk. He borrowed a couple of elves from a passing Father Christmas and told a terrible "I got them from the National Elf Service" gag, but it was clear his throat was giving up.
"Oh dear. What to do? The mayor did his bit and I reminded everyone yet again to stay for the fireworks at 7 o'clock, but could I think of anything more to say? Would I have to use my Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Joke? My deployment of this device has brought many a fine event to its knees and even the threat is capable of clearing a medium-sized shopping street in under 20 seconds. Fortunately Steve recognised the peril seven thousand people were in and took over for the last few seconds before the countdown to the lights, which inevitably after all the panic came on two seconds early.
"After that it was mainly plain sailing, and we covered another no-show with an extended set from the magnificent 80-strong Ealing Rock Choir. Just the raffle and fireworks to go, and then "that's it! Happy Christmas, and see you all again next year!".
All we can add to that fine account is to say well done to all the performers and participants, and to say a huge thank-you to the many volunteers who manned barriers, sold raffle tickets, helped with set-up and clear-down and performed a multitude of other essential jobs. There is a gallery of photos from Light Up The Lane on the PCA web site here.