PARADE: Concentrate on quality, not nostalgia

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‘Make parade happen’, says your headline (Free Press, May 6). So once again exhortations cherish the memories of the Flower Parade. Let’s get real.

It’s several decades since the countryside around here could justly be called ‘Tulipland’. Older inhabitants will remember whole landscapes covered with glorious stripes of breathtaking colour. It’s not like that any more: hasn’t been for a long time; why pretend?

When tulips were a big local industry, the growers and other significant businesses gave their backing (resources and their tulip heads) to the rapid evolution of the Tulip Parade as a major attraction designed to publicise the industry. The attraction was immense and drew large numbers to the town each year. On the principle of ‘a good wine needs no bush’, it was word of mouth that spread the reputation.

But, for technical reasons, the tulip industry declined and all but vanished. The parade was re-christened as the Flower Parade, but the original driving force was no longer there. Some people worked hard to try to keep the parade going, but with fewer resources the quality declined – the beginning of a downward spiral. The parade was padded out with well-meant, but inadequate substitutes. You don’t get on a bus in Manchester to see a straggle of small children wandering along the road. A reputation is easy to lose and hard to regain.

Spalding was a natural centre for the old parade, because at that time the town had many strong linkages with the agricultural industry. Nowadays it is in, but no longer of, the agricultural area. Let Spalding think for itself.

So, let’s face up to the facts. Stop, for instance, using the tulip motif on things like the name signs on the roads into town and in other places. And stop harking back to the old days and thoughts of resurrection. Some effort has been made this last bank holiday to provide a new set of attractions. It’s a small beginning, but could be fostered. Provided the watchword is ‘quality’ and not ‘nostalgia’, it might be possible to build a new reputation.

It might help, of course, if Spalding had a parish council with Spalding’s interests at heart; but there we are: it doesn’t.

John Tippler