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Have you seen the large Black Dog of Ipswich? The Pyre Parade burns bad news this weekend

PUBLISHED: 19:01 22 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:44 24 October 2019

The Black Dog, symbol of The Pyre Parade, a new Ipswich tradition, which invites people to write down their bad news which is then set ablaze on a huge bonfire. The Black Dog represents Suffolk legend Black Shuck and makes reference for the slang term for Depression. Photo: Guido Mencari

The Black Dog, symbol of The Pyre Parade, a new Ipswich tradition, which invites people to write down their bad news which is then set ablaze on a huge bonfire. The Black Dog represents Suffolk legend Black Shuck and makes reference for the slang term for Depression. Photo: Guido Mencari

© Guido Mencari

We seem to be weighed down with bad news at the moment. The Pyre Parade in Ipswich offers a welcome opportunity to rid yourself of those negative thoughts and have some fun into the bargain

The Pyre Parade, part of a new Ipswich tradition, which invites people to write down their bad news which is then set ablaze on a huge bonfire as part of a act of communal cleansing accompanied by music, singing and food. Photo: Guido MencariThe Pyre Parade, part of a new Ipswich tradition, which invites people to write down their bad news which is then set ablaze on a huge bonfire as part of a act of communal cleansing accompanied by music, singing and food. Photo: Guido Mencari

During half term, Pyre Parade returns to the streets of Ipswich, this year the event is a little larger, with music and food following the burning of all our bad news on a giant Pyre in Christchurch Park.

In the build up to this fiery purging of negativity, people will have spotted large black dogs popping up across town. These dogs are guarding special Bad News Post Boxes at select locations (Ipswich Museum, Dance East, Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich Central Library and the Pacitti Company Think Tank).

The good folk of Ipswich and Suffolk are being invited to write down and post our bad news into these boxes - bad debts, Brexit (Leave and Remain), health worries, a sour relationship, or colouring in where you went over the edges - whatever the badness, feed the beast.

The Pyre Parade is produced by The Rough Band, a group founded by Ipswich lads Mark Offord and Robert Pacitti where anyone can be a member. Simply turn up with something loud to bang, such as wooden spoons on saucepan lids. Local people have also been involved in Pyre Parade Skills workshops to help make the props and the Pyre Choir has been busy learning songs to sing (and shout) during the parade.

The Pyre Parade, part of a new Ipswich tradition, which invites people to write down their bad news which is then set ablaze on a huge bonfire as part of a act of communal cleansing accompanied by music, singing and food. Photo: Guido MencariThe Pyre Parade, part of a new Ipswich tradition, which invites people to write down their bad news which is then set ablaze on a huge bonfire as part of a act of communal cleansing accompanied by music, singing and food. Photo: Guido Mencari

Organiser Robert Pacitti said: "Last year we had 500 people turn up and we hope that once again it will capture the public imagination. It's a real community event, anyone can turn up, join in the parade and watch all our bad news go up in flames.

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"Last year the parade moved south to north through the town; this year we will move west to east. We will gather at 6pm on Saturday October 26 at The Think Tank, on High Street next to Ipswich Museum. There we will form a big noisy parade, to march our bad news through the town, accompanied by a Pyre Choir and other special guest performers.

"Later we will set the badness alight at Christchurch Park and watch the flames engulf it, before sharing some food and music -with Josh Locke and the Lockerbillies - and some good times together back at The Think Tank.

The Pyre Parade, part of a new Ipswich tradition, which invites people to write down their bad news which is then set ablaze on a huge bonfire as part of a act of communal cleansing accompanied by music, singing and food. Photo: Guido MencariThe Pyre Parade, part of a new Ipswich tradition, which invites people to write down their bad news which is then set ablaze on a huge bonfire as part of a act of communal cleansing accompanied by music, singing and food. Photo: Guido Mencari

" We will be burning up the night sky and opening space for a better future."

He said that the half term Block Magic event for families on the Cornhill has attracted a lot of attention and the entries into the bad news box there has been busy.

"It's worth noting that the bad news is open to everyone. It's something for all ages to get involved with. We all have our share of bad news and it is just as real for a young person as it is for someone older. It's our chance to write it down, post it in a box, get rid of it, and then watch it go up in flames.

"It's worth pointing out that it's all anonymous. No names. The boxes are sealed. No-one is going to read them. The pieces of paper, containing our bad news, will be taken out and used as fuel for the Pyre. It's an act of community cleansing."

He added that using the motif of a large black dog for the bad news boxes was a nod to the Suffolk legend of Black Shuck, the ghostly seven foot dog, as a harbinger of doom and also to the phrase 'Black Dog' being a slang term for depression. Winston Churchill was, in his own words, prone to attacks by 'the Black Dog'.

The Pyre Parade assembles outside Ipswich Museum on Saturday October 26, at 6pm, moves off at 7pm, through the town centre before ending up at Christchurch Park.

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