Musical memories of the flower parade

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Blogger Trish Burgess writes for the Free Press

When I first moved to the area in 1988, I rarely had the chance to see Spalding Flower Parade. Working in John Lewis, Peterborough, meant that Saturdays were usually work days.

After my son was born in 1996, we were able to watch the parade as a family but it was only in 2006 that I had any real involvement in the spectacle. By then I had joined Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society and that year, when the theme was ‘A Date to Celebrate’, SADOS was celebrating its 140th birthday.

A number of musical floats were available to local organisations and thanks to the sponsorship of Nursery Fresh Plants, SADOS was able to decorate one to publicise its forthcoming musical, Oklahoma!

The parade that year was a real family affair. Dougie joined me in the run up to the parade to sit in a cold, draughty shed, pinning tulip heads onto polystyrene boards. This was enjoyable but back­breaking work, sitting on upturned crates, sticking long u­shaped pins into the tiny bit of stalk left on the flower.

The heads had to be positioned very tightly so the polystyrene was completely hidden.

On the day itself, Dougie was one of our marshalls, feeling very important in his hi­vis vest. Rory, although not part of the cast, was allowed to be on the float with me, waving to all the visitors.

It was a long route that year, starting and ending at Springfields. The cast, in full costume, sang and waved for many hours, conscious of the effort we had to maintain as each new group of supporters wanted to hear us in full voice. I can’t tell you how many times we must have sung ‘The Farmer and the Cowman should be Friends’ on our long haul round the town, but we were heartily sick of it by the time we returned to Springfields.

On a positive note, we were word perfect when we took the show to the South Holland Centre a few weeks later.

In 2007 SADOS was part of the parade again, this time publicising The Witches of Eastwick. Dougie joined me, though was forced to wear red devil horns and carry a plastic pitchfork. I think he wore sunglasses in case anyone recognised him. Rory abandoned the family that year to be on his own float with the kids from Polka Dot Academy.

2008 proved to be the last year the society was involved. A fabulous float for Calamity Jane, with two large panels recreating the Deadwood Stage itself: it even had windows from which we could wave to the crowds.

The songs that year were great for audience participation: so many people joined in with our renditions of ‘Windy City’ and ‘The Black Hills of Dakota’.

Returning to the Sir Halley Stewart playing field, cold, croaky and desperate for the loo, I was looking forward to going home. Then I remembered the car was parked at Springfields...

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