A TRADITIONAL carnival has been cancelled for the first time in 67 years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Harwich Guy Carnival sees Big Heads parading through the streets alongside satirically decorated floats poking fun at current events.

But committee members of the Rotary Club of Harwich and Dovercourt have decided not to organise this year’s event due to concerns over social distancing.

Organisers had delayed the announcement in the hope the situation would improve and allow the carnival, which is staged in late October, to go ahead.

The carnival, which would have celebrated its 166 anniversary this year, started in 1854 when workers at the Royal Naval Shipyard decided to commemorate their work by holding a public demonstration.

Nowadays, the carnival is famous for its witty slogans and pithy pars guying issues in the town as well as its fancy dress parade.

John Wade, chairman of the Harwich Rotary Club’s Guy Carnival committee, said they were disappointed the event could not go ahead.

He added: “The original Guy Carnival procession goes back to the days of the shipyard, however, this event came to a halt during the war years.

“In 1953, the carnival restarted and it’s been part of the local history year after year.

“It’s the first time since 1953 the carnival cannot happen.

“We were looking to see if we can do a virtual carnival procession but we realised we’re not too advanced with technology.

“It is hoped we will be able to continue the tradition next year.”

The carnival, which usually attracts 2,000 to 3,000 people along the route, was due to take place on Saturday October 31 starting from the top of Ainger Road, Dovercourt, and wending its way into town.

The traditional event is the club’s main fundraising event of the year.