Only one sleep to go until Celebrate Aberdeen 2017 – how on earth did that happen? Months of hard work are about to come to fruition in the full-to-bursting two days ahead. We stopped founder Morven Mackenzie in her (rather fast) tracks to get her perspective on the weekend to come…
Can we expect anything new and special from Celebrate Aberdeen 2017?
We’ve invited sports groups to take part in this year’s parade, as well as the charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups. We’re really delighted to have them on board. Our intention going forward is to start promoting some of the sports clubs and teams in the city - and the parade forms part of that effort. The fact that the inaugural Great Aberdeen Run is also happening ties everything together nicely. The two events should make for a great weekend.
Which familiar parts of the weekend can we also look forward to?
We have the three Union Street Mile races organised by Sport Aberdeen. These start outside the Music Hall, go up to Holburn Junction and back down to the Castlegate. The runners are really fast so it’s quite a spectacle. We then have the foot parade which looks to be even bigger again this year, followed by entertainment in various city centre locations. These are Union Terrace Gardens, Bon Accord, St Nicholas Roof Garden, Union Square, Trinity Centre and Aberdeen Central Library.
What's been the most challenging aspect of organising this year's weekend?
The weekend is organised by a small team of volunteers – in partnership with Aberdeen City Council – so finding enough hours in the day after work and family commitments is always a challenge for everyone. We’re not based in one office but instead are spread across the city and beyond, so that also makes life more difficult. The amount of information that goes flying about by email, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat etc. is quite incredible. In fact I’d rather not think about it!
And the best bits?
The people involved in Celebrate Aberdeen are absolutely fantastic. It still amazes me that people are willing – keen in fact – to give up so much time to put on something that benefits others. It’s really heart-warming. I like to think that they all get something out of the experience too, whether that’s making new friends or business contacts, or learning a new skill. Hopefully it’s all three! I’m forever asking people to help with various elements; not only do they all step up to the plate, but they do so with a smile and a sense of warmth.
Do you secretly have your own favourite part of Celebrate Aberdeen?
I have two favourite parts. I love it when the parading organisations arrive at Harlaw Academy to pick up their banners. I’ve got to know so many of them over the years and it’s lovely to get the chance to catch up with them. They’re always so positive about the parade and that makes all the burning of midnight oil worthwhile. I also love turning back as I approach the Castlegate and seeing everyone coming down Union Street. I never imagined it would look as it does. Union Street becomes a throng of brightly dressed, happy people carrying banners and enjoying their moment in the limelight.
What do the last 24 hours involve for you as the event lead?
With 24 hours to go everything really should have been done and if it hasn’t then I have to learn to live with it. I’m someone who is obsessed with detail and likes everything to be perfect. At this stage in the process there’s not much more that can be done though, so I always try to relax with my family and not think too much about the weekend ahead. It’s not always easy but I do try. And of course I check the weather forecast every hour on the hour!
Is there anything you'd like to say to someone who's attending Celebrate Aberdeen for the first time?
I’d definitely say to try to come down on Saturday morning and watch the Union Street mile races and the parade. The races start at 10.30am and the parade begins at 11am. The intention of the parade is to give recognition to the many, many people who work tirelessly – often on a voluntary basis – for our benefit. So it would great to get the support of the general public. Then I’d suggest taking a walk through town and listening to the various performances, stopping off in Union Terrace Gardens for some tasty food and a fine cup of coffee.
And there we have it – wise words from the lady herself! Let the celebrations begin…