Opinion

Is the heart of Horsham in its events and park?

By Nik Butler

The first possible glimpses of a summer are here and with it the bare midriffs and shorts and sandals of the season are on display.

I watch young men shoulder bags of charcoal in as macho a manner as possible, whilst families and friends gather on the frescos of cafes as restaurants make  rare use of this dry day.

The sunshine draws crowds and drives a few more sales. Children have played in fountains and on sundials despite all health and safety implications or signs warning against play.

Blue skies gather the crowds to the park, to our Market town and its satellite villages have come alive with the sounds of a summer.

The retro French fayre in the Carfax created yet another point of data which shows that Horsham demonstrably loves an occasion.

I wonder if we were to examine the details of car parking capacity during those times would it indicate that an event is more effective than a shopping mall in attracting a visitors attention? But then I do like to go on about that don’t I?

There is a certain moment of nostalgia for me on days like this.

I remember the festivals of the late eighties where the park was packed with stalls, marquees and stages whilst Bensons Fun fair would heave with the crowds surging into rides and teenagers would gather around the latest arcade cabinets to spend their fifty pence in 3 lives hope of reaching that score board.

I remember being volunteered as part of 1015 Squadron as an Air Cadet to walk along side the carnival procession of floats and parade entertainers gathering donations in an orange bucket.

I remember another festival a few years later, the scenes from Narnia assembled by local churches and the first glimpse of a girl who I would, quite a few years later, marry.

Nostalgia may not be what it used to be but the memories of those times were of a Horsham that bustled not because of supermarket offers or glitzy malls.

Instead there was a sense of contribution and attendance in which you felt as if you were part of an experience not part of a marketing campaign.

Before the construction teams move in to begin the West side renovations maybe we should be looking to our own experiences and decide if it is car parks or the park that make Horsham marketable ?

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