Bonnet Guild Float

Today was the day, the biggest day of the year in this small town in Ayrshire, it was Bonnet Guild Day. An event than annually brings joy and a burst of real community to the town. And like every year, I was to play a part in it. Some years I am part of the Guard of Honour with the Scouts but this year, I was on the Scout’s float in one of the day’s most eagerly anticipated spectacles, the parade.

But first, the float had to be prepared. This was how I found myself out and about at 9am on that Saturday morning in June. Two of the scout leaders and I were to decorate the float, as we would be the supervisors on it later in the day. I had only just arrived at the scout hall when the lorry rumbled in to view, shattering the peace of the morning. The preparations began in earnest. The theme of this year’s floats was to be ‘old Stewarton’. For this, the Scouts were to be dressed like members of old Bonnet Guild Courts. As these costumes were prepared, fences and benches were added to the truck, with banners and a throne added for the queen. This was hard work but eventually after a couple of hours the float was complete, and it looked great. I quickly dashed home to change into my outfit, a Bonnet Guild member complete with Stewarton ‘bunnet’.

The crowning ceremony was imminent and the square was buzzing with nervous excitement. I was extra nervous because my brother was this year’s highlander. As I stood waiting on the crowning to begin, the other scouts were taking their places on the float, raring to go. After the crowning ceremony, which was a huge success, I dashed up to the float. I made it just in time and as soon as I sat down, we were off. Our float was first in line, so we were the first to see the masses of Stewartonian’s that had gathered along Main Street. As I watched the other floats turn the corner behind us, I realised the huge scale of the parade. As we passed the crowds, we smiled and waved to everyone we knew, and even those we didn’t. Some people threw coins at the float, which only added to the occasion. The town looked very colourful, with bunting hung everywhere and shop fronts decorated in the theme of ‘old Stewarton’. The noise was unbelievable, with excited children screaming and people blowing horns and whistles. The kids on the float were enjoying themselves, bouncing up and down in their seats. People were taking pictures and videos, and it felt good to play a part in something so special that only happens once a year. As I looked down from my perch on top of the float, all I could see were happy, smiling faces, faces that for this one day a year were carefree and were not thinking about the problems associated with modern day life.

As the convoy trundled to a halt outside Lainshaw Primary, where the day’s activities were taking place, there was an air of nervous anticipation. This is where we would find out who had won the coveted “Best Float” trophy. And the winner was… Lainshaw Primary School! All of the scouts were naturally disappointed but cheered up when consolation sweets were handed out. Oh well… until next year!

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