HUNDREDS of families got in the community spirit as they watched Christmas come early at Waterlooville town centre.
The Mayor of Havant, Councillor Paul Buckley, did a countdown before people stationed at different lampposts activated a series of Christmas lights.
It took a little while for all of them to come on, but that didn’t affect the mood of all the people that braved the cold weather and came out for the occasion.
Afterwards, there was a whole range of fun activities and treats laid on. Children got to pet some animals, meet Santa and Peppa Pig and there were chestnuts and candy floss on offer.
Crowds were also treated to a performance from Waterlooville Community Choir, who practise at Waterlooville Baptist Church.
John Bushnell, 37, of Cowplain, who brought along his wife Charlie, 34, and children Bobby, four, Phoebe, two, said: ‘We live locally so we thought it would be nice for the children to come up and see Peppa Pig and Father Christmas. It’s got us in the Christmas spirit. It’s nice to see everyone come together.’
Nikki Pyatt and her husband Nick took along their kids Peter, five, and Toby, three.
Nikki said: ‘This is just a lovely, traditional family thing to do.
‘It’s lovely bringing the children out for an evening and seeing what’s going on.’
The event on Saturday evening was made possible thanks to Waterlooville Community Forum, which got together £45,000-worth of donations from local businesses and developers.
A grotto will be set up in Waterlooville Library from next month.
Cllr Buckley said: ‘The turnout has been tremendous.
‘I don’t think I have seen this amount of people in the town centre for a long time.’
Preparations are already being made for next year.
David Crichton, chairman of Waterlooville Community Forum, said: ‘We wanted to create something special for people to come to.’