It has been nearly 130 years since Aberdeen’s granite streets were first transformed into a sea of carnival colours.
Twenty-two different prime ministers have come and gone and eight monarchs have sat on the British throne since the Torcher Parade was first launched to raise funds for a city hospital.
However, earlier this week it was announced the lights had gone out on the event for the last time.
Organisers of the event, which raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities over the years, were told there would not be enough council staff available to carry out traffic management.
A fixture of the Granite City’s spring calendar, the parade began in 1889 when nurses from the then Aberdeen Royal Infirmary held a torchlit parade to raise much-needed funds for the hospital’s struggling wards.
The Aberdeen University Students’ Charities Campaign took over the event in 1921, with students from the educational institutions which preceded the Robert Gordon University also joining in the festival.
It subsequently became the traditional culmination of the university’s charity fundraising week, which has raised more than £1million for local causes during its history.
At its peak, thousands of people would line the city centre streets to watch as scores of floats, depicting traditional and modern characters alike, made their way past.
In the early days, the crowds would throw coins onto the floats which would be picked up after the parade had concluded.
But latterly, due to health and safety concerns, the coppers would be dropped into buckets by the side of the road.
Ultimately, the event was the largest of its kind, led by students, anywhere in Europe.
But, in recent years, it has reduced in scale due to dwindling participation from students, as well as diminishing crowds, and a reduction in funding.
None the less, the news of the Torcher being extinguished has been met with sadness from a number of the university’s former students.
William “Buff” Hardie, a member of the celebrated north-east comedy trio, Scotland the What? studied at the institution from 1949 to 1953.
Due to performing in the student show, which was always on the same night as the parade, he never took part in the event itself.
But, despite never getting the opportunity to clamber onto a float, he said it had played an important part of his family’s life in later years.
He joked: “I was offering a different spelling of Torcher to the crowds on those nights.
“But when we had children, we always made a habit of going into town and watching it. My impression is there were far fewer floats and vehicles taking part in recent years.
“Certainly, our kids always enjoyed it. I remember friends of ours stayed in Carden Place and we would all go along and watch the parade as it came by and throw our pennies out of the window.
“There were some very inventive floats, and I remember the medical students in particular were always good.
“It was a great part of the Aberdeen story. Lots of families used it as an excuse for a day out, and it’s a shame it won’t go ahead this year.”
A former UK Chancellor, who attended the university in the 1970s, also expressed his regret on hearing the parade had been cancelled.
Lord Darling of Roulanish said: “I am sorry it is being discontinued, because it was one of the highlights of the year both for students and the city.
“The Aberdeen charities campaign was one of the most successful in the UK.”
There has been defiance from the organisers and anger at the lack of assistance offered by some stakeholders.
But these Northern Lights of Aberdeen really seem to have gone out.