Israel parade planners aim for ‘carnival’ spirit

The organisers of next month’s Closer to Israel parade in central London said they were confident of a strong turn-out as the route it will take was unveiled.

Former UJIA chief executive Douglas Krikler, who chairs the planning committee, said that although the decision to stage the June 2 event had been “taken at a relatively late stage,” support was encouraging.

“The anticipation is that it will at least match, if not exceed, previous events,” he said.

“We have made rapid progress over the past week and now feel all the elements are in place. It’s now about recruiting participants and making sure it is the fantastic occasion we want it to be.”

The route for June 2 will mirror that of the successful Salute to Israel parade which marked Israel’s 60th birthday five years ago.

Starting outside Hyde Park at midday, the parade will go down Piccadilly and end in a Trafalgar Square party scheduled to last from 2 to 4pm.

“It is not a political rally,” Mr Krikler said. “It is a very much a festive celebration of Israel’s 65th year of independence.”

He hoped the parade would attract a few thousand, with spectators and other participants swelling the numbers to 20,000 in Trafalgar Square.

“We’re looking for a carnival-like atmosphere and we are encouraging people to go to town,” he said.
“There will be floats, open-top buses, motorcyclists, cyclists, stiltwalkers. We hope to have street theatre and other activities going along the route.

“The idea is to make a splash and be visually exciting, demonstrating the Jewish community at its finest and its association with Israel as a fundamental part of our identity.”

Music and other cultural performances are being planned to take place in the square.

There were also hopes for a video-link up with the Celebrate Israel parade in New York which is happening on the same day.

The as-yet undisclosed cost is being met by the UJIA, Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council, Community Security Trust and private donors.

“The sense is that it is right to have some kind of gathering and celebration every five years or so,” Mr Krikler said. “I don’t expect it to be an annual event.

“Whenever you do something like this, there’s always a slight anxiety whether people will show up. But every time, we have been amazed at the outpouring of commitment.

“We are confident it’s going to be a great event and, hopefully, one of those ‘I was there’ moments.”

Last updated: 5:45pm, May 2 2013