One event not to be missed was the annual Regatta.
In 1897, three years before Lucy arrives in the town, Francis Burnand and Phil May of Punch described the ‘Torchlight and Trades’ Procession’, with a Ladies’ Committee awarding prizes for the ‘best decorated or most realistic Car, also for Cycles and Masqueraders’. The procession included: Horsemen, Cylcists, Gordon Boys’ Band, Sandwich Fire Engine, Trade Cars, Drum and Fife Band, Masqueraders, Old Salts with a Boat, Deal Fire Engine and Escape, Friendly Societies, Druids, Foresters and Oddfellows, His Worship the Mayor, the Town-Clerk and Aldermen in Carriages, Tableau Cars and Torchbearers. The trade cars included Laundry Working, Arch Cutting and Herring Hanging. The shrimpers were represented by local celebrities with names such as ‘Stick Up Adams’, ‘No Hair Jack, and ‘Pigs in the Garden’.
The ‘Old Salts’ included in the procession may well have been one-time members of the lifeboat crews. According to Our Sea-Coast Heroes (published in 1887) some stations:
owing to their position in the gangway of trade, have become more famous than others for the bravery of their lifeboat-men, and among these Deal occupies a foremost position. There are, too, few places where these services are attended with more danger, as through the channels of Deal beach rapid tides surge impetuously along and break in vast volumes of rolling surf upon the world-famous Goodwin Sands and upon the shingle beach. From father to son through many generations has this reputation for hardihood been handed down; and we think we may safely assert that the race of boatmen now existing at Deal has never been surpassed for those generous qualities which have rendered their forefathers famous.
Lucy is delighted by the Regatta, and particularly by the extraordinary skills of the inhabitants of this little town, who seem to be at one with the salt-water and shingle.
She attends a short talk on the timeball, and then catches a Punch and Judy show, wondering what the political women of Ramsgate would have made of such a spectacle.
Just then, she spies the same group of sailors that passed her when she first arrived in town, and cannot seem to forbid her feet from trotting after them, towards a tug-of-war contest which has already attracted a cheering crowd.