Jersey goes into Battle

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UP to 12,000 people were due to descend on Victoria Avenue this afternoon for the Battle of Flowers.

Float-building teams worked until the early hours of this morning getting their floral masterpieces finished in time for the annual carnival, which is now in its 115th year.

And after hundreds of hours of painstaking work – and the traditional last-minute touch-ups – the 28 exhibits made their way down to the parade arena this morning, ready for judging.

Battle organisers said the 12,000 tickets for today's show, and the 15,000 for tomorrow's Moonlight Parade, had been selling extremely well, although there would still be plenty available on the gate at both parades.

One team hoping to make their way into the Battle record books today were the Optimists Club, with their 35th float.

The Mexican carnival-themed Bossa Nova is 45 ft long and 26 ft tall, and covered with 180,000 blooms.

If they take home the top award today, The Jersey Evening's Post Prix d'Honneur, they will become the first team in history to win it six years in a row.

Designer Steve Bouchard said: 'There are lots of good floats and we're hoping we will do well, but we've got no preconceptions. We'll see what happens.

'When I designed the first Optimists float 35 years ago I'd never have dreamed that we would go on entering floats for so long. To have won five in a row and for our gang to put together the standard of float that they do every year is just fantastic.'

On Wednesday afternoon Miss Battle, Evie Bertram (18), was joined by Mr Battle, former EastEnders actor Jonny Labey, to tour float-building sheds and marquees with other parade officials to see the last-minute preparations taking place.

Their visit to the Grouville shed was particularly special for Jersey-born Jonny (24) as his parents, Mark and Collette Labey, are stalwarts of the parish Battle team and he himself was also involved for a number of years. Mrs Labey was also a former Miss Battle in 1983.

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