The Moving On Parade in Lewes had a special significance for Chailey Heritage School this year.
It was the first time it had participated in the event since 2004.
Six wheelchair-bound pupils with complex disabilities joined the spectacular procession through the streets.
Chailey Heritage School teacher Meriel Green said afterwards: “The buzz at Chailey is still to die down after what can only be described as a sensational day.
“The parents were overcome with emotion due to the fact their children were marking a huge transition in their lives with other children from across the area.”
Organised by children’s art charity Patina, the annual Moving On Parade celebrates the moment when Year Six children from the town and surrounding villages move on to secondary education.
Fourteen primary schools took part in the carnival style parade – and the morning rain magically disappeared. This year’s theme was ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ and the children from each school worked with Patina artists to interpret the theme.
The result was a magnificent array of characters and icons from the silver screen, including minions, tin men, Darleks, images from Narnia, monsters, animals from Madagascar, divas, Toy Story – and even a giant ghost-busting marshmallow man and an angry doughnut.
Moving On has become a rite of passage for young people from the town and local villages, and marks the transition from primary school in a way that is unique to Lewes.
More than 320 children took part. They were joined by the Priory School Samba Band and students from Sussex Downs College. Many other volunteers helped with the stewarding and organisation on the day.
Starfish bands entertained the children at the post-parade party at The Paddock and Drum United ran drumming workshops for all the children involved.
The youngsters were also treated to a live performance of beat box featuring vocal gymnast Mal Webb at the party, followed by a free swim at the Pells Pool.
Patina co-ordinator Caroline Croft said: “Talking to local people old and young, it’s really apparent that the Moving On Parade has a special place in people’s hearts and it was such a pleasure to see the children enjoying their big day, regardless of the weather.
“Fortunately the rain stopped for the duration of the parade and people lined the streets – it felt like Lewes came out to hold a big umbrella over the parade to cheer them through.”