by Jeff Hathaway
ST. Brelade Battle of Flowers had a fantastic Battle this year with their entry "Shangri-La" scooping the Grand Prix des Pariosses Trophy given for being the 3rd best float on The Avenue, just behind the Prix d'Honnuer and the Prix d'Excellence.
The Association also received the Best Set Piece Award and the Best Costume Award this being the third time they have received this award in the past four years.
Committee member Janet Le Gros told La Baguette: "A big thank you must go to our costume maker Yvonne Binet for all her hard work. Our 'thank you' list is enormous from the Chairman down to the catering staff and everyone who gave their time and effort to help us complete this fantastic entry. We must also thank our designers Simon Thomas and Nigel Gates for their stunning design. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those parishioners who took the time to send in donations to help us enter into the Parade. We are always looking for help with the float, so please feel free to com to the shed to meet us and join in."
But there is a lot of hard work behind the float as La Baguette found out.
Planning for the Battle of Flowers begins early. During November 2011, the St Brelade's Battle of Flowers Association met to discuss ideas for the design of the float for the 2012 Battle of Flowers. By December, Shangri-La was chosen, and materials ordered for the framework. By May 2012, the framework is mostly in place, built around the chassis of a refuse lorry. Hares tails were being glued to separated sections, and underlying frame painted. With suitable music chosen, the trained dancers begin rehearsing their routines. But the big rush comes in the four nights before the Battle itself, when many volunteers young and old arrive and 130,000 heads are glued to the float together with 80 kilos of hares tails.
The Chairman of the Association, Michael Jandron, gets an early night around 10.30 on the eve before the Battle. Early around 5 o'clock on the Battle morning, he is in the driving seat, an enclosed and very hot and noisy place inside the structure.
Directions are given to him over headphones from two people walking beside the float, and he has a tiny camera mounted at the front, which enables him to see the white line in the centre of the road. At five miles an hour, the float creeps down Beaumont Hill to the Battle Arena, where in early afternoon, the Battle magic begins once more.