THOUSANDS of people turned out to give a new visitor attraction in South Tyneside a flying start.
The official opening of the £5m Littlehaven promenade and sea wall in South Shields was marked by a wing-walking air display, fireworks, dance performances and a host of fun and games for youngsters.
Hours of entertainment kept all ages captivated, with even Saturday’s wet weather failing to dampen enthusiasm on a landmark day for the town.
South Tyneside Mayor Ernest Gibson led a parade of civic guests along the promenade, and a commemorative plaque was unveiled at the specially-commissioned Sail sculpture by the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Nigel Sherlock.
The mayor later swapped his robes for a lifejacket as part of a simulated rescue display given by Tynemouth’s RNLI crew.
Spectators were spellbound by the skills of the Breitling wing-walkers, and South Shields Sailing Club made waves with a regatta in the harbour, while Westoe Brass Band were among the entertainers providing a musical backdrop.
The event was capped off by spectacular fireworks display.
The fun day proved a huge hit with families, attracting visitors from near and far.
Sarah Smith, 33, of South Shields, there with her two-year-old daughter Sophia, said: “We’ve had a really fun time. It’s a shame it has rained, but my daughter has really enjoyed it and I think the sculptures look great.
Her pal Lisa Kershaw, also 33, of Newcastle, there with nine-month old son Thomas Hoyland, said: “The day has been good. I think the promenade looks very nice.
“I come to South Shields a lot and I think the promenade will be even better in the summer.”
Stephanie Lawes, 35, came further than most to be part of a milestone day for South Shields – all the way from the Persian Gulf.
She said: “I live in Dubai, but I am her for another week visiting family in South Shields.
“The promenade looks really nice.”