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'It's gone but they are doing it for the right reasons'

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Tom Greer, owner of the Park Inn

Tom Greer, owner of the Park Inn

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Hollie McBride of Hollie Berrie at the Tea Rooms in Scarva

Hollie McBride of Hollie Berrie at the Tea Rooms in Scarva

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Hollie McBride with a customer

Hollie McBride with a customer

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Tom Greer, owner of the Park Inn

Businesses in Scarva would usually have spent the last few weeks getting prepared to supply food and drink to the thousands who descend on the Co Down village on the Thirteenth. This year, though, they have to deal with a massive loss in revenue.

With around 100,000 visitors normaly flocking to the host venue of the Sham Fight - commemorating William of Orange's victory over King James - tills would be ringing in this quiet village.

However, for the first time since the Second World War, the main street of Scarva will be empty during the Thirteenth celebrations.

Publican Tom Greer, who owns The Park Inn, admitted the cancellation of the parade will be a "big blow" as it is his best day of the year in terms of revenue.

"We have our beer garden going usually and we have people staying with us," he said.

"We live across the road and we took photos from the balcony, and you're talking maybe 70,000 or 80,000 people who were here the day we took that photo.

"It will be big blow losing out and it is the best day of the year for us with the thousands that are here.

"It's gone but they are doing it for the right reasons. It will come good again and there's always next year."

Elsewhere, Hollie McBride, a director of Hollie Berrie at the Tearooms, which is located at Scarva's visitor centre, said the cancellation of the celebrations will be a "massive hit" for the village, and not just in terms of revenue.

"Other businesses will probably take a bigger hit than us but it still will be a massive hit because there's a lot of free advertising for us," she explained.

"Last year was our first year opened here, and we were only open for a month, so it was a big thing for us that thousands and thousands of people walked past and saw our sign.

"Even if they weren't buying the burgers from us, they were still seeing it, which was good.

"We'll lose that element of it too. It still will be a big hit but it's just sad that the tradition is not being held."

Hollie, her family and staff put a marquee and tables in the car park last year for their barbecue and hosted huge crowds from 5am right through to 6pm.

"To me, it's bigger than the Twelfth because there's thousands upon thousands of people," she added. "It will be missed but with everything going on it is safer that nothing happens."

Belfast Telegraph