Crowd cheers as Cosham Christmas lights are switched on

Fan who collapsed during friendly game dies

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SANTA Claus was the star of the show as Christmas kicked off in style at a lights switch-on last night.

He was joined by guests on stage as they pushed a plunger which turned on the festive lights in Cosham High Street.

Two faces in the crowd, Ellie Rees-Gray (6) and her friend Kimberley Alexander (7), as crowds pack Cosham High Street to watch the switching on of Cosham High Street Christmas lights. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (133260-544)

Two faces in the crowd, Ellie Rees-Gray (6) and her friend Kimberley Alexander (7), as crowds pack Cosham High Street to watch the switching on of Cosham High Street Christmas lights. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (133260-544)

More than 100 families soaked up the atmosphere at the event, which included a variety of entertainment and a stunning fireworks display.

Performers included The News’ Instant Star winner Jerry Williams, Abstract Dance and Performing Arts and Southzone Dance Academy.

Michelle Hughes, 32, of Cosham, who went along with her daughter Olivia, three, said: ‘My little one is into Christmas this year and understands the whole concept of it all, so I thought I’d bring her along and build up the fantasy for her so she can have many enjoyable Christmas’ to come.

‘It’s been a pretty good event for a small town.

‘It’s nice to see everyone come together and it’s nice to see the community out supporting each other.’

Trudy Smyth, 37, had a great time with her daughter Katie, six.

Trudy, who lives in North End, said: ‘Katie was happy to see Father Christmas.

‘Though there seemed to be more people here last year, it’s nice that people have come out.

‘It’s nice to have these free events.’

The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Lynne Stagg, The Blue Reef Aquarium’s mascot Charlie the Clownfish and Queen Gertie the Gorgeous, a character from this year’s Sleeping Beauty panto at The Kings Theatre, also attended.

Gemma Hart, 29, of Cosham, took her children Chloe, eight, and Alfie, six.

She said: ‘The kids want to come along.

‘It’s nice seeing everyone enjoying themselves.’

Colin Walker, Portsmouth City Council’s district centres co-ordinator, helped to organise the event.

He said a lot of people gave up their time for free.

‘The Christmas event in Cosham is always a fun, family event,’ said Mr Walker.

‘The community really get involved.

‘It’s also a good occasion for businesses in the community.’

There were children’s rides and refreshments to keep visitors warm.

A huge Christmas tree has also been put up near Cosham’s Tesco store.