A company director hopes to re-launch the Spalding Flower Parade so it returns to the town centre on the May Bank Holiday weekend.
Town pubs took a hammering on Saturday as customers stayed away on what used to be their busiest day of the year.
But two publicans say the people of Spalding are bigger losers because they have lost the one event that put the town on the map and everyone looked forward to seeing.
Jason Courtman’s company, RJAYS Ltd, took over the lease of The Lincolnshire Poacher on Tuesday but instead of seeing the usual 2,000 customers on Saturday there was a steady trickle of around 200.
Jason was brought up on Spalding’s Roman Bank – a stone’s throw from Springfields – and remembers childhood days seeing queues of cars and buses coming into town on parade day.
He said: “I don’t know how I can explain the feeling of not having the parade for that day. It’s devastating.”
Jason says it takes about £2,000 to create one of the traditional Flower Parade floats and if ten pubs each chipped in £200 that would meet the bill.
He also wants to speak to big employers to see if they will back the parade – and perhaps pitch in with the organisers of the new Spalding People’s Parade to see if they are willing “to do the Flower Parade day on this Bank Holiday weekend like it’s supposed to be”.
Punchbowl landlord Pete Williams said the Flower Parade was killed off by high costs of policing, marshals and barriers, but it could have a new lease of life if static floats are placed around the town centre.
He said: “The Flower Parade should not be about my trade.
“The only losers, really, are the people of Spalding. The people of Spalding have had their flower festival, in my opinion, hijacked by Springfields, initially by having it moved from the Halley Stewart to Springfields.”
“Winners” on Saturday were town centre shops, which didn’t have to close for the afternoon parade, and stallholders who had their market in its traditional spot.
Stallholder Shelly Andrew, from SJA Produce, said the town was as busy as a normal Saturday, but there were people who didn’t know the parade wasn’t on.
She said: “I had a few people ask ‘what time does the procession start?’ There were a few comments on Facebook that the town didn’t have the same feeling, that it was dead.”
Shelly would like the parade to return because “it’s good for the town”.
Hills Department Store director Emma Allmand said: “We have had a much busier day than the normal tulip Saturday.
“Our regular customers were in making a normal Saturday trading day for us. The last few years this day has been very quiet for us.”
Viv Barker, owner of the White Lodge Guest House in Halmer Gate, said bookings were down on last year – normally all her rooms are booked weeks in advance.
A spokesman for Spalding News in Market Place said: “We’ve had bumper days when the parade was held, but it was still busy so we can’t complain.”
Police had quiet time with just three reports of anti-social behaviour over the weekend. No-one was arrested.