End of summer celebrated with free parties in Barking and Dagenham

Ricky Turner, 4, Tommy Turner, 2 and Omar Zeshan, 4 with a chick

Ricky Turner, 4, Tommy Turner, 2 and Omar Zeshan, 4 with a chick - Credit: Archant

Thousands of people waved goodbye to summer at two family fun days on Friday.

In Dagenham, the Heathway Shopping Centre hosted a beach-themed bash featuring a sandpit, face painting and balloon making.

“It was good all round,” centre manager Kerry Debenham said.

“We even got the mayor into the sandpit with the inflatable crocodile and that went down very well.

“We had 15,000 people attend, and the fortune teller and tombola raised £250 for charities.

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“It was a fantastic turnout given the weather – I didn’t think so many people would come indoors.”

Over in Barking Park rangers oversaw a wide-ranging event which included animal handling, zorbing, go-karting and novelty bikes.

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Loretta Hoy, park ranger, said: “It was great fun. The kids were especially fascinated by the python – they were either completely terrified of it or they absolutely loved it.”

About 700 people attended the event, which also included a popular Punch and Judy show.

“The puppeteer sang I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, which was very well received by West Ham fans,” Loretta added. “But the whole show was good – the people interacted with it so well.

“And it was great fun seeing the kids riding penny-farthings.

“We hope to do something similar next year – we’d like a legacy from this since we are quite a poor borough and free events are always well received.”

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