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Visitor numbers in Watford town centre double as council stages Big Sports Day

Watford FC’s Harry the Hornet was among the thousands of people who packed into the centre of Watford for the epic Big Sports Day on Saturday.

He was competing in a mascot race – which he won after narrowly beating Welephant, the gigantic red elephant mascot of Herts Fire & Rescue Service, in the finals. It was a double celebration for the recently promoted Premier League club, who were up north beating Newcastle 2-1 as Harry ran and hosted Watford footy games on Saturday.

Peppa and George Pig, the Everyone Active Bee, Zoggy, Teddy from Teddies Tots Nursery, Max the lion from Apex and Buster the walking to school dinosaur were also running. Buster and Max also had a go at some of the free exercise sessions in the NRG and Fitness4Less areas, which were next to the 60m racing track.

Big Sports Day was a roaring success – around 8,500 people were in Watford town centre at the time of the mascot race, compared to about 4,000 on your average Saturday. The figure rose to nearly 9,000, and did not drop to 4,000 until the event finished at 5pm.

There was a BMX track, climbing wall, cycle simulator, mini-tennis courts, speed of tennis serve and rugby kick challenges, parkour workshops, golf training and zumba to keep people occupied. And there were free health MOTs from Watford’s GPs, and massage, reiki and yoga in the Feel Hot Yoga and Wellbeing Tent.

The entire pedestrianised length of The Parade was filled with free sports, fitness and general health-based activities and services for people to try out and experience.

Watford Borough Council chairman Kareen Hastrick, who blew the whistle to begin the mascot race finals, said: “It was great seeing everyone having so much fun. We wanted to get Watford active, and I think we succeeded. I saw people of all ages at the Big Sports Day, having fun together. Hopefully people will have been inspired to take up a new sport or exercise class, join a gym, or do something else that will make them fitter and healthier.”

If visitors weren’t able to make it to the Big Sports Day, Watford Borough Council will continue to host a series of free and low-cost sports and fitness activities through its Get Active programme, with activities ranging from dance to netball. There’s a keep fit class specifically tailored towards the over-50s on offer as part of the project too. Residents can find out more at www.watfordgetactive.co.uk.

The Big Sports Day was one of a series of major community experiences being staged by Watford Borough Council as part of its Big Events series. The next Big Event to be staged this year will be Diwali on The Parade from noon to 5pm on Sunday 25 October. The cultural celebration will include Gopi dots facepainting, workshops, arts and crafts and a unique Diwali market selling the best Indian food, crafts and gifts all day. There will be a procession along The Parade to the pond and event space from 4.30pm followed by a breathtaking flame and pyrotechnic display.

Later in the year, the Big Skate – Watford’s very own outdoor ice rink and another of the council’s Big Events – will make a triumphant return, bringing festive cheer to Watford from 28 November to 10 January. For more information, visit www.watfordbigevents.co.uk.

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