THE driving force behind Southend Carnival has urged families to turn out to support the annual summer celebration.

Garry Lowen, carnival association chairman, spoke as the carnival fair was launched at Chalkwell Park in Westcliff, marking the start of an actionpacked week of events.

Carnival week culminates in the spectacular procession of floats on Saturday, August 16, with families being encouraged to line the route.

Big changes this year include a change in the route, which will now start at Southchurch Park and travel to Chalkwell.

For the first time, groups entering floats will be able to collect cash for Southend Carnival to hand out to needy causes or collect for their own choice of charity.

Mr Lowen said: “This will motivate more people to enter as they will have ownership over the distribution of the money they collect.

“To be a success, the carnival needs helpfrom all parts of the local community including businesses through sponsorship supporting the costs of staging it.

“We are delighted to have a number of sponsors whose values are aligned with ours.

“This is especially true of our main sponsor Summercare, a partner who is 100 per cent supportive of our aim to enable the most vulnerable community members to take part.”

Mr Lowen urged families to turn out for the events at this year’s carnival.

He added: “Everyone is invited to attend all our events over the coming days. The opportunity to enter the procession is still open with entries being accepted until August 14.

“The procession is an opportunity to show the talent this town has, while having fun and supporting their chosen charity."