For the last 54 years Spalding, the town I live and have grown up in has held a community event in the form of a flower parade, the latest being just two weeks ago.
The parade starts its journey at 2pm from the Springfields Events Centre and continues along a three-mile journey, ending at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, with a finale between 4pm and 6pm. Children and parents alike are encouraged to take part in the parade and everyone who attends the parade anxiously awaits the float with the newly crowned flower queen.
The first ever parade took place in 1959, skip a few years ahead and this parade became famous. The Spalding Flower Parade originates back to the 1920s and 1930s. The Jubilee in 1935 of King George V and Queen Mary coincided with the time the tulips were in flower. In 1948, the Growers’ Association became involved in organising a Tulip Week. A 25-mile tour through villages and country lanes was conceived to show the best fields.
By 1950, Tulip Week had become Tulip Time and was developed in conjunction with the Spalding Urban District Council over three designated weekends. To guarantee there would always be tulips on display, even if there were not any in the fields, from the many millions of tulip flower heads removed, it was decided that we should keep some available for decorative purposes, some means quite a few as a single float which can be as much as 50 feet in length may be decorated by as many as 100,000 tulip heads!
Alongside the Flower Parade there is lots to see and do in the Springfields Arena during the parade weekend including a float display and parade line-up, statics displays, classic car show, church flower displays, arts, craft and gift stalls and musical entertainment.
So, during the first weekend of May, Spalding town centre is filled with flower-themed goodies, tulip covered floats and the sound of children’s laughter.
Unfortunately the flower parade is not without its downsides, because the parade takes place during a weekend the town sees its usual barrage of drunken teenagers which can sometimes ruin the ambience.
When I was a little girl Spalding seemed relatively small, with the main part of the population being the over 60s, but in the last five years or so Spalding’s population has boomed. Spalding is now a large multi-cultural town; the streets are lined with an assortment of languages and eastern European-imported products.
As a part of my investigation into whether community spirit still exists, I took it upon myself to do a little research.
I whipped up a little questionnaire for some of the parents that had recently moved to Spalding from other countries. I asked them what they thought of Spalding’s community events.
I was very happy with my findings, most of the parents said that they had enjoyed the previous flower parades and that they would be attending this year’s parade as well as parades in the future.
They did, however, comment that they thought there should be more community events and that there was not enough for the children to do.
They felt that more events should be held in the summer when people are more inclined to go outside because of the warmer weather.
Often today’s news is filled with negative discussions on the ever-increasing population, as we see more people choosing to migrate towards the UK.
Being at the parade was a great chance to see people from many different cultures embracing this opportunity to spend time together, making new friends and creating new traditions, that will hopefully become a part of our future.
Television is one of the main culprits for separating communities by enticing viewers to bigger chain stores outside of their own towns, which takes them away from local shops.
Events like Spalding Flower Parade help bring more trade to smaller, more local traders, thus helping the town thrive. Traders embrace this opportunity by decorating their windows and selling flower-based, mainly tulip-themed, goods.
After researching into whether community spirit still exists, I have come to the conclusion that it indeed does still exist, but it needs work to keep it going.
People need to come together whenever and wherever they can and celebrate their community. After all, it’s where they belong.
I attended the parade this year, walking alongside my daughter, proudly cheering the floats along and helping to fuel the spirit of the town.