Spectacular ceremony lets Eden loose

Bucks Free Press:

HUNDREDS of people lined the streets of High Wycombe to celebrate the opening of Eden shopping centre this morning.

Crowds gathered in excitement from 9am to watch a procession that celebrated the final arrival of the centre.

The opening finally got under way at 9.35am with a lone drummer outside Miss Selfridge.

He was quickly joined by a second drummer and they worked their way through the new centre.

More musicians joined to add to the steadily increasing sound including, trumpets, saxophones, clarinet and percussion instruments.

One interested spectator was a Jack Russell brought in to celebrate the opening of HMV, which has the breed as its logo.

The musicians stopped at Jones Bootsmakers where staff cut a ribbon over its entrance - letting loose five exotic dancers.

More ribbons were cut to open stores as the parade passed, coming to a halt outside H&M and Marks and Spencer.

Here the spectators gave a thunderous applause in welcome.

Alan Peach, director of retail developments for Multiplex, which has built the centre, then thanked workers for their efforts on the three-year project.

Lesley Clarke, leader of Wycombe District Council, which is leasing the land to Multiplex then came forward.

Putting aside speeches for shoppers' hunger to see the new centre, Mrs Clarke said: "Thank you everyone for being so patient. You have waited a long time for this - let's get the show on the road."

There was then a 10-second countdown which shoppers shouted out.

A plunger was pushed setting off fireworks outside to gasps from the crowd.

The band then struck up again to work its way back through Eden - as confetti showered Marks and Spencer to signal the store's opening.

Among the spectators was Jason Newton, 37, a picture framer from High Wycombe said: "It was brilliant, especially the drummers. I was really impressed with the fireworks, I think they got it right with the opening ceremony."

But not everyone was impressed with the parade's extravagance.

Jacqueline Green, retired, of Deeds Grove, High Wycombe, said: "I think it was totally disgusting.

"It's more like the opening of a nightclub, not a shopping centre, with lots of girls with their backsides out. It was not nice.

"I think this could have been done better. We have so many different cultures in this town, they all could have had a part to play. We are a multi-cultural town."

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