Nostalgia: The changing face of gala fun

The queen and her attendants at Dalkeith Gala in 1954

The queen and her attendants at Dalkeith Gala in 1954

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THE annual season of local Gala Days has once again seen areas festooned with flags and flowers for the traditional community celebrations.

The tradition of the gala day may be one steeped in local history, but while plenty of things may not have changed about the event in recent decades, it’s hardly likely that the Balerno Gala Day would again feature youngsters dressed as black and white minstrels.

Back in 1968, however, the fancy dress was considered one of the talking points of the annual procession of floats – for very different reasons than if a similar float were to appear today.

For children the Gala Days were a welcome chance to dress up and have a day of fun, with the centre-piece always the crowning of the King and Queen of the Gala.

Huge crowds would gather for the “coronation” of the youngsters, whose parents always made sure they were dressed in their most regal outfits.

In Dalkeith, in 1954, the queen even had her own attendants, making sure she felt just like royalty, even if only for the afternoon.

The Gala Days always provided plenty of entertainment for all ages though, and in 1972 ambitious organisers of the Leith Gala Day on Leith Links hired a hot air balloon to offer trips for eager members of the crowd, only to find they were swamped with eager customers keen to try out the ride.