Cockenzie and Port Seton Gala

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Decorated boat
Decorated boat

Cockenzie and Port Seton Gala day is held annually on a Saturday at the end of May/beginning of June. Floats carrying fancy dress contestants and local Primary School children selected to be ‘the court’: ‘Queen’, ‘Ladies in waiting’, 'Queen’s Escort’ and assorted followers. All move off in a parade through the villages of Port Seton and Cockenzie starting at the Port Seton Centre.

The first stop on the route is to lay a wreath at the local war memorial on the green. The parade then continues – pipe or silver/brass bands and all - to Cockenzie Harbour where the ‘court’ embark on the ‘Queen's Barge’ (one of several local fishing boats specially decorated with bunting and shields for the day by their skippers). They sail out of Cockenzie Harbour for Port Seton harbour, chased by other decorated boats (carrying 'pirates' and 'sailors') taking part. Community and visitors follow their progress by walking along a coastal path which runs between the two harbours to meet the entourage as they disembark. Safely on dry land, all then head to King George V Park where the Seton Queen is crowned each year by a different local representative (usually female). After the speeches and prize giving (fancy dress, best dressed houses and boats etc.) all can enjoy various fairground attractions, music, local dance/other demonstrations, food stalls and Bar tents.

Gala Day is pre-dated by a much older event which is no longer held, but which the local community hopes to honour in future years. The Box Day Meeting used to be held on the third Friday of September after the summer fishing when local fishermen returned from weeks away from home. Having each contributed from what they had made, money would be distributed from the Box (see at http://www.scran.ac.uk/database/record.php?usi=000-000-495-779-http://ww...) to help those less fortunate in the community. This, as retired fisherman Archie Johnston says, ‘was in the days before they had ‘insurance’.

Many locals hope the ‘Friendly Society’ banner carried in the original Box Day meeting (see at http://www.scran.ac.uk/database/record.php?usi=000-000-574-307-C) will be repaired and returned to the community from the Local Authority’s Museum for use by current and future generations.

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