Shopping hub shines brightly under lights

Chancellor Phillip Hammond

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WITH a wave of magic dust, a Christmas tree was transformed into brilliant blue.

Children were in awe as Father Christmas turned on the lights at Whiteley Shopping Centre.

Whiteley shopping centre played host to a Christmas lights switch on extravaganza. Santa with friend Laura Nevitt.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143219-3)

Whiteley shopping centre played host to a Christmas lights switch on extravaganza. Santa with friend Laura Nevitt.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (143219-3)

Hundreds of people mingled around the shops as they stayed open for the big switch-on.

Festive tunes such as Jingle Bells and Rocking Around The Christmas Tree echoed around the shopping centre.

There was the annual Lantern Parade led by 1st Whiteley Scouts and Father Christmas and his helpers.

And many children enjoyed a ride on a toy train.

Corinne Harris, 30, from Whiteley, brought along her 15-month-old son Elija to see the lights being switched on.

‘It’s lovely,’ she said.

‘We have been here almost two years and this is the first year we have been to see Santa.

‘It’s so family orientated. There’s a real community spirit.’

Shona and Terry Haines brought along their three daughters, Sophia, Holly and Emily.

Mrs Haines, from Whiteley, said: ‘It’s very impressive.

‘Father Christmas was perfect.

‘The kids have loved it and are very excited. This just adds to the excitement.’

Jackie Pittaway, 27, brought along her young daughters, Laila and Jasmine.

‘It brings the community together and puts on a show for the children,’ she said.

‘It’s what Christmas is all about.’

Mandy Cooper, 54, and her daughter Nicola Salmon, 27, spent the day selling their hand-crafted Christmas decorations at a stall.

The pair, from Hipley, near Denmead, paint all the decorations themselves and make the clay pots in a kiln at home.

Their collection amounts to over 400 items.

Mrs Cooper said: ‘We are feeling festive.

‘We have enjoyed it and it’s been busy here.’