MORE than 50 businesses headed to Harwich to get the first glimpse of octopus sculptures which will be filling Essex streets next summer.

A business reception for the Octopus Ahoy art project gave companies the chance to learn more about becoming patrons of arty octopus sculptures.

The sculpture trail coincides with the Mayflower 400 celebrations marking 400 years since the Mayflower set sail to America with the Pilgrim Fathers.

Representatives attending the Octopus Ahoy were introduced to the campaign’s mascot octopus who will be heading on a road tour of Essex over the next sixth months to help promote the campaign and app for the octopus trail.

The mascot has been nicknamed CJ after Christopher Jones, the caption of the Mayflower who lived in Harwich.

More than 100 octopus sculptures will be seen throughout Harwich, Tendring and the wider Essex area from July 4 next year until September 12.

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They will form part of an art trail which will enable visitors to unlock prizes as they scan the QR codes on the base of each octopus via the Octopus Ahoy app.

An auction of the sculptures will take place at the end of September at Le Talbooth, Dedham, with profits going to the Essex Community Foundation.

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Thom Mitchell, of Planet 14 Landscapes, based in Tendring, said, “As a local business we were thrilled to be invited to become an octopus patron and be part of the exciting Octopus Ahoy project for 2020.

“We can’t wait to choose our sculpture design and to see ours, as well as all the others, decorating the area, giving something back for everyone to enjoy along the trail, which will be both of economic benefit to all as well as some fun along the way.”

Other sponsors include Milsom Hotels, Ellisons Solicitors, Galloper Wind Farms, Harwich Haven Authority, Surya Foods, Palletways Logistics and Reeman Dansie auctioneers.

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The project is being developed in partnership with KAT Marketing, which successfully delivered the public art sculpture event Stand Tall for Giraffes to celebrate Colchester Zoo’s 50th birthday in 2013.

Kate Skingle, director of KAT Marketing, said: “These projects need patrons to get on board and help make it a success and so we’re pleased to see so many businesses get involved already.

“Octopus Ahoy will provide all its patrons with guaranteed footfall as host locations, alongside unique and amazing opportunities for engagement with their employees and customers.

“It truly is a wonderful programme for companies to become involved with.”

Email octopus@katmarketing.co.uk for details or visit octopusahoy.co.uk.