SANTA brought the magic of Christmas to Emsworth after helping to turn on the town’s festive lights.
Scores of families braved the cold and turned out at Town Square for the community event last night.
A button pressed by Father Christmas and Jeff Crate, of the business and economic team at Havant Borough Council, transformed the area into a festive glow.
Carols including O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem and Away in a Manger were also performed by Emsworth Concert Band and children got to visit Santa in his grotto.
The Rev Simon Sayers, of St James Church, delivered the Christmas message to visitors.
Lee Harrie Wood, 39, of Emsworth, turned out with her children Ruby, eight, Lara, six, and friend Sarah Partridge, 39.
Lee said: ‘It was a great event and it’s helped to get everyone into the Christmas spirit.
‘It’s a nice bit of family fun and the kids were really keen about seeing Santa.’
Sarah, also of Emsworth, said: ‘Emsworth looks really pretty.
‘It’s the kind of place where people always come together and do something as a community.’
The lights cost between £3,000 and £4,000 and were paid for by The Southern Co-operative’s community fund scheme.
More money will be injected from the fund into festive events in Emsworth in the future.
The Emsworth Business Association also paid for small Christmas trees and lights to be put up in windows outside shops.
Mr Sayers said everyone in the community had worked hard to put the event together.
‘It was a fantastic night and people worked extremely hard. It’s nice as well that shops stayed open for people so they could have some refreshment.
‘This was a celebration of Christmas which will continue in schools and churches.’
Maureen Ballard-Neale, 74, and her husband Rex, 78, enjoyed singing carols.
‘We’ve lived in Emsworth for 36 years and this is the first time we’ve been to the switching-on of the Christmas lights here,’ Maureen said.
‘It’s brought the community together, but everyone in Emsworth does that on a regular basis anyway.
‘It’s nice to see involvement from the local church and fun provided for the children.’
Katherine Nicholas, 31, of Havant, who attended with her children Evie, four, and Harry, two, added: ‘The Christmas lights look extra special this year.’