19 August 2019

An ele-phantastic herd of Elmers are packing their trunks and heading for Sunderland – and the city has planned a fun-packed welcome for them.

On Wednesday 21 August, 50 sculptures based on children’s storybook character Elmer the Patchwork Elephant will form a Great North Parade through the region.

And seven of the individually decorated elephants will make their home in Sunderland for the free, 11-week long event.

To celebrate their arrival, family-friendly, Elmer-themed arts, crafts and activities will take place at each Elmer location on the opening day of the trail, following an official welcome at 10.30am at the city’s Market Square by The Mayor of Sunderland Cllr David Snowdon and Mayoress, Cllr Dianne Snowdon.

Market Square will be home to Sunderland BID’s elephant sculpture, Allsorts, and youngsters from Tavistock Nursery will also be there to welcome him, alongside members of the Beacon of Light’s Extra Time Hub, with live music provided by a trumpet band.

Yoga lovers are also invited to attend two, special sessions in the pop-up park at Market Square with JD Gym.

At the Bridges, their very own elephant, Stitches, will be at Central Square and, from 11am to 2pm, staff will be organising free craft workshops giving children the chance decorate their own Elmer coin banks.

Gentoo-sponsored elephant, Flora, can be found at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and in honour of her arrival, the venue’s Pottery Gallery will be holding a series of art and craft sessions on 21 August, starting at 10 am.

The sessions will continue into the afternoon, with workshops to decorate mini room sets.  

Along the coast Fab Nelly, sponsored by sofa and carpet specialist ScS, will make her home at Seaburn sea front, where Minchella’s will be handing out free ice cream to the first 50 children who visit between 12 noon and 2pm.

Fans of David McKee’s Elmer stories who head to nearby Roker Park will also be able to see the original patchwork Elmer in his new home for the duration of the event, while, at Roker beach, visitors will find Doodles, sponsored by Everyone Active and Sunderland City Council.

They have organised a beachfront party with games on the sand from 10.30am to 3pm and everyone is welcome to join in.

Crafts are also on the agenda at Beacon of Light, whose sculpture, titled The Beautiful Game, will be inspiration for an Elmer corner, packed with reading books and colouring-in sets for younger visitors.

“The whole city is going Elmer mad,” said Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID, “and we are delighted to be playing such a major part in the Great North Parade.”

Elmer’s Great North Parade – organised and in aid of St Oswald’s Hospice – is the successor to 2016’s Great North Snowdogs art trail.

“That was a huge success for Sunderland,” said Sharon, “not only in terms of economic impact but in sheer feel-good factor – and we know Elmer is going to be even bigger and better.”

Further information about all the activities taking place on launch day – including times and costs, where applicable - is available at www.sunderlandbid.co.uk