Hastings Borough Bonfire Society (HBBS) has defended its decision to use its annual effigy to commemorate 100 years of the Royal Air Force (RAF).
At the society’s event on Saturday night (October 13) fireworks were set off from a structure highlighting the 100th anniversary of the RAF.
But the decision has since come in for criticism, with social media users calling it ‘disrespectful’.
A spokesman for HBBS said: “The effigy was a firework display to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the RAF. We were lucky enough to have the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows display over Hastings in July, which was also inspiration for the effigy.
“Before the event, the RAF were approached, and they were very pleased with the idea – asking to live stream it on their website.
“There were no other effigies.”
HBBS’s 2017 effigy paid tribute to Ron ‘Popeye’ Everett – a well-known Hastings character who passed away that year. Other effigies before that included a Norman longboat commemorating 950 years since the Battle of Hastings, seagulls, Katie Price, Pirate Day and The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
A post on the HBBS website says: “Make no mistake Sussex Bonfire Celebrations are important for remembering an infamous occasion in history when the democracy of the country was under attack.
“They are as relevant today as they were in the past as a statement against oppression and for democracy. From the infamous Gunpowder Plot came the national celebration we know as Bonfire Night held, appropriately on 5th November.
“Today the Bonfire boyes and girls must march first to show that the will of the people is strong and that democracy is a sign of people power. The Bonfire and fireworks are a sign of celebration and the effigy – well, we wait to see on the day what the effigy might be. Sometimes an effigy is blown up in mockery and sometimes in thanks and as a mark of respect. Work out which you think it is for 2018.”
The RAF has been contacted for comment.