|Boston's carolling councillors (above). |
The performer at back row (centre) was feeling a little off-key!
Boston is getting the idea!
Looking back over our reviews of Boston's Christmas Market in previous years, it is heartening to detect a slow but steady improvement.
In the past there have been problems regarding shop opening hours - which ones would open and which would not bother - lack of pre-publicity and organisation – and of course, last year’s disastrous switch-on of what were apparently some of the oldest civic illuminations in the country.
This year’s switch-one was a big improvement, and happily, our old lights have now found their way into the Science Museum.
But sadly, the new ones have proved a disappointment. Although they may seem better next year when the Market Place is restored, we shall remain eternally disappointed at how little we seem to have received for such a huge financial outlay. It seems that £35,000 a year doesn’t buy very much these days.
But back to last weekend.
Certainly, the event was well attended, and to judge by the reaction of people we met on the street, was deemed to be good entertainment.
Although we missed the Scunthorpe and District Pipe Band, we heard much praise for their performance.
But we were there in time to catch the performance by Boston’s “carolling councillors.”
It was interesting – having heard the radio report of their rehearsal earlier in the week – just how much their performance had improved.
And, as we told one of the participants - silly as it may sound,something like that does the council's image lot more good than a sheaf of press releases.
It shows a sense of community and a sense of humour - and does much to overcome the perceived remoteness of "the council" to the citizens.
And we were pleased to see that one or two councillors had joined the group at the last minute.
Perhaps next year there will be even more.
Their performance made events more local – as did the appearance of the Boston Grammar School Schuhplattler Gruppe – although we noted that ... presumably for Health and Safety reasons ... the vigorous slapping of hands on lederhosen-clad thighs that we would have expected is sadly no more!
And again, localness was enhanced by the involvement of Endeavour Radio – taking on what we would once have expected from BBC Radio Lincolnshire.
We were less enthused by the craft market – which by early on Sunday afternoon had many empty stalls.
If it was a "hired in" attraction, then for future years, it may be a good idea to insist that stall holders go the distance … rather than taking the money and running at the halfway mark.
The regular stall market adds as well as detracts.
It adds substance – but detracts in terms of atmosphere as it exudes no sense of Christmas.
Overall, we were pushed to get a seasonal feeling from events – despite the presence of two glum reindeer who looked as though they would rather be anywhere else than Bargate Green.
We also felt that better signposting - with clearly visible timetables at both ends of town detailing what was on, where … and when - would have kept visitors moving between the Market Place and Bargate Green.
The real question here is: Who actually organised the event?
Boston BID - the Business Improvement District - is supposed to have had something to do with it – but exactly what is unclear.
What is clear, though, is that things would have been far less entertaining if local businessman Darron Abbott had not involved himself in events.
It was his idea to assemble the choir of councillors, and the display of stalls in the Market Place, for which we are sure that beleaguered traders in that part of town were grateful. It was also Mr Abbott who brought the pipe band to town and paid for it from his own pocket.
Take those three aspects away from the weekend’s attractions, and the event would have been considerably diminished.
And let’s not overlook the willingness of Dave Edwards, owner of Edwards Emporium in Dolphin Lane, to donate 1,000 free lollipops for Santa to give away at the lights ceremony.
Before next year, we need a coalition of organisations involved, together with interested individuals, so that – like the carolling councillors – everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.
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