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Last Updated: Monday, 30 August, 2004, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
No regrets at 40 for carnival
By Jane Mower
BBC News Online at the Notting Hill Carnival

Girl blowing hooter
Performers encourage the crowds to join in the fun
"You'll miss some great tunes", was the warning from one carnival-goer to a policeman wearing yellow ear plugs.

But as a sound system passes by, blasting the crowd with a deafening force similar to that of a jet engine, the precaution is understandable.

This however fails to deter the mass of sequins, shiny ribbons and feathers dancing behind the trucks which transport the music along the three-mile route.

Onlookers watch in awe as the result of months of hard work - a total of 150,000 costumes - go before them in waves of colour.

Whistles and hooters

The hours of practice dedicated to each performance is evident from the concentration etched across the dancers' faces.

But once the music starts the nerves fade and the smiles take centre stage.

Dancer

It also becomes clear that size matters as the person with the largest, most impressive, costume commands the crowds' attention.

Leaning over barriers the spectators sound their whistles and hooters in appreciation of the much awaited floats.

The party atmosphere is hard to escape as groups stand outside drinking beer and eating pasties watching the passing spectacle.

Abolition of slavery

One man called Bow, who was attending carnival for the fifth time, said it just keeps getting better.

"People should all have whistles and hooters to contribute to the carnival vibe," he told BBC News Online.

"This year it is great and today is so much better than yesterday.

"I've been coming here for the past five years and I will certainly be coming again next year."

Man cooking
The smell of food and charcoal fills the air
About 300 stalls selling jerk chicken, curried goat and sweetcorn help create the smell of food and smouldering charcoal that fills the air.

This year the community of Notting Hill in west London has more to celebrate as the carnival reaches its 40th anniversary.

Carnival grew out of the abolition of slavery, after which black people threw parties and celebrations in the streets.

Despite Notting Hill's black community being at the centre of carnival, in 2004 it is clearly a party enjoyed by all cultures.

Last year figures failed to surpass 600,000 but many said this made for a more mellow carnival.

Women in costume
The parade makes its way safely along the streets of Notting Hill
This year Children's Day on Sunday attracted 250,000 people and organisers were hoping a further 750,000 would attend the parade on Bank Holiday Monday.

Ensuring the floats made their way safely along Ladbroke Grove, Gherre was stewarding for the sixth year.

He said: "Everyone comes here to have a good time. There are fewer people than last year I think so that makes it a bit more relaxed.

"If people just chill out and enjoy it, the carnival is one of the best places to be."





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