Edinburgh Taxi Outing returns to the Capital for 74th event and first since Covid pandemic

It was a case of smiles all round as the Edinburgh Taxi Outing returned after a two-year absence, delighting city residents as the colourful extravaganza made its way through the city streets.

By Neil Johnstone
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 6:12 pm

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The annual event, which has been organised by Edinburgh taxi drivers since 1947, provides children with special needs a magnificent day out to remember, touring the city in decorated taxis as they throw water bombs and squirt water pistols at onlookers as the drive past.

Departing Edinburgh Zoo at 10am, the procession of 50 taxis draped in balloons and sporting an array of family movie themes, drove more than 100 participating children and their families through the city where passers-by soaked up the festive atmosphere as well as getting literally soaked themselves by water pistols fired from the passing cabs.

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The event sees Edinburgh taxi drivers take a day off to provide a joyous day out for children with special needs. It has taken place almost every year since 1947.

Escorted by a police motorcade, the parade travelled along Princes Street, North Bridge and the Royal Mile before passing through Portobello, Joppa and Musselburgh where the procession took a quick break for ice cream at Lucas.

After a 30-minute refreshment stop that saw the Musselburgh community come out in droves to take part in the festivities, the procession continued along the coastal road through Prestonpans, Aberlady, Gullane and Dirleton before heading to Archerfield Walled Garden for a spectacular party that included a bouncy castle, pony rides, a magician and a BBQ.

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The fun filled day out, which sees Edinburgh cabbies take time out of their schedules to take part, usually takes place every June but was forced to cancel the previous two years owing to the pandemic.

Edinburgh cabbie, Brian Allan, picked up the award for best decorated taxi with his highly impressive Willy Wonka themed vehicle.

Keith Bell, a former taxi driver and current secretary of the Edinburgh Taxi Outing Committee, said: “This is a day on a lot of driver’s calendars - the second Tuesday in June, that’s what we need to do.

“I was determined that this would go ahead this year – even if we only had ten taxis and ten kids it was going ahead. Because I felt if we didn’t do it this year we might just lose the momentum.”

Mr Bell, who has helped organise the event for the last 20 years, added: “It’s just a day to be free and have fun and for everyone to enjoy themselves.

“It’s a day out for the kids but also the parents and the drivers get to join in as well so it’s a win win win situation.”

Mr Bell explained that he loves to see positivity it brings, evidenced from family feedback.

The former Edinburgh cabbie said: “We get messages on our Facebook page after the event that say, ‘my child doesn’t really speak but all he’s said today is taxi taxi taxi.’

“Or, ‘my daughter doesn’t smile much but she’s not stopped grinning all day’.

“That’s what we do it for. It’s just so children can be children.”

Ahead of the procession, prizes were awarded at a ceremony at Edinburgh Zoo including best dressed taxi driver and best balloon.

Picking up a trophy for best decorated taxi this year was Brian Allan who sported a Willy Wonka themed taxi.

Mr Allan, a cabbie for 38 years and taken part in the event 34 times, said: “It means the world for me doing this. It’s a dream for all the kids and it’s great to see smiley faces.”