By Bethany Armer
Thousands of excited Yorkshire folk lined the streets of Leeds on Wednesday (September 28) to welcome home the region’s 2016 Olympic heroes.
A sea of spectators cheered and waved flags as Yorkshire’s own Olympians and Paralympians rode through the city centre on six open top buses.
Team Yorkshire brought home 14 Olympic medals out of Team GB’s 64 medals.
Well known faces involved included the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan, who won gold and silver in the Triathlon event, bronze medal gymnast Nile Wilson and gold medal winning Paralympian Kadeena Cox.
Kadeena, who won medals in both cycling and athletics in Rio said: “To have the parade in my hometown of Leeds is unbelievable, and to be involved is something that starting out as an athlete I could not have dreamt of.”
The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Gerry Harper said: “To be given the chance as a city to host the Yorkshire Rio Heroes parade was an extremely proud moment for us, and it was amazing to see so many people from the county and beyond cheering the outstanding achievements of all our local Olympic and Paralympic athletes.”
In the crowd were married couple Susan and Jeremy Smith from Golcar, West Yorkshire. Mrs Smith said: “It was fantastic, it put us on the map.”
Entertainment on the day included a samba band and dancers dressed in extravagant costumes, adding to the carnival atmosphere.
Also watching the parade was 24-year-old Kyle from Scarr End, Leeds, who said that he felt “pride” while watching the procession travel through the city centre. He added: “It was a shock that I felt so overwhelmed.”
Lauren, 22, from Bradford, said: “I liked the feeling that we accomplished something other than making a good brew!”
The parade travelled from the Headrow, next to Leeds Art Gallery, through City Square, down Boar Lane and Briggate and ended at the town hall.
Company Showsec were in charge of security and crowd management on the day. Liam Walton, Showsec steward, said: “I was fortunate enough to be part of the parade procession guarding the entrance to one of the open top buses, so I was really in the middle of the action.
“The athletes had worked extremely hard and made Yorkshire proud and this was shown by the large crowds that they deserved.”