A CHRISTMAS tree is standard fare when it comes to the festive season.
But on Hayling Island it was the first time in years that one returned to a public precinct.
Dozens of young schoolchildren from Mengham Junior School sang in Mengham Road last night ahead of the lights switch-on.
Clare Satchwell, 40, of Hayling Island, was at the event with her partner Jamie Buchanan, 34, and children Finlay, 10, Rory, eight and Ozzy, five.
She said: ‘This is the first tree for a while. I know as a child they did the switch-on and everyone came out.
‘It’s so nice there’s so many people here.’
Shops opened late and there were funfair stalls for the 5.30pm lights, which were turned on by the mayor of Havant, councillor Marjorie Smallcorn.
She said: ‘It’s lovely to switch on any lights – but I’ve done a lot in Hayling so it’s nice to come back.
‘It’s lovely and that’s what it’s all about.’
Hundreds of people had turned out for the lights switch-on.
Among them was Pauline Raymond, 36, of Elm Close Estate, who was with her daughters Tamsin, five, and five-month-old Penny.
Pauline said: ‘It’s amazing, we’ve lived here for 11 years but it’s the first time we’ve been here. It gets you in the festive mood.’
Over in Lee-on-the-Solent, High Street and Pier Street were closed as the festivities got under way.
Businesses with the Lee Business Association had taken part in a Spirit of Christmas event.
And in Portchester, a church and three schools took part in the Portchester Precinct Traders Service-organised Christmas event in Portchester Precinct.