Make it a date for return of Bearmania
It's "all systems go" for a revival of 2011's Bearmania, as a date for the attraction's return to Congleton is earmarked for next year.
Organisers hope the festival will attract shoppers and support the high street's recovery post-lockdown.
Almost a decade ago, more than 60 colourful model bears descended on the town bringing with them a "huge" number of visitors who followed a mapped bear trail.
Now, the town's business collective has pencilled in Saturday, 20th March, for a repeat of the popular.
The plans follow the town council's approval of a £20,000 covid-19 recovery budget, as reported by the Chronicle last week.
The ringfenced money will be allocated to projects by council officers to promote business in the town centre.
Dawn Gibbins, a member of the Beartown Business Collective, explained why the date next year was significant.
"It's International Happiness Day," she said. "We want Congleton to be seen as one of the happiest places in Britain."
The philanthropist and former businesswoman chaired the first meeting of the town's business collective back in June.
She said: "We sold 15 bears at our first meeting, but of course we couldn't make them because we didn't have the funding in place to create the moulds and the bears themselves, but now we can get moving after the council approved a budget.
"We want to have moulds for a 5ft bear, a 3ft bear and a 1ft bear, but we still need the pricing confirmed. Before you can ask for any money from the town council, you need to supply three quotes so that's what we're working on at the minute."
Mrs Gibbins said that initial work on the logistics would take the group to around mid-September and that she had a meeting on Friday with Frank Hilldrup, the business collective's secretary, to consider what the next steps would be.
"What we need to do is get the operational infrastructure sorted out - it's all systems go. We need to set up a bank account, for example.
"Then we can start doing things like putting together promotional brochures for traders who want to buy a bear.
"Last time, the bears were made in Gloucestershire, so we need to find out if there is someone local we can work with this time."
The town council's Business Support Working Group was set up by Independent Coun Russell Chadwick to work "hand in glove" with the Beartown Business Collective. One of the proposals the groups are jointly investigating is vinyl fronts for empty high street shops.
The vinyls would display images of butcher's shops, shoe shops or other designs to make the windows appear more attractive.
Mrs Gibbins thought it was "old hat" to use images of shop fronts on disused lots, and told the Chronicle that she would rather see the town fully embrace the bear theme.
"A butcher, a baker and a candle stick maker is a really boring idea," she said. "There are eight species of bear in the world, so let's use those on the empty shops. If each shop window had a picture of a bear, that could be a trail through the town within itself."