SANTA, a panto star, a giant clownfish, a penguin, and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth joined forces to start the Christmas season by switching on Southsea’s lights.
Hundreds packed the Palmerston Road precinct to enjoy the free entertainment and the evening market, as they waited for the unlikely companions to take the stage and push the plunger that saw the lights spark up a festive glow last night.
In the run-up to the lights going on, there were live performances which saw song, dance and music from Manic Stage Productions, Streetforce DC, Mayville High School Choir, Timestep School of Dance, and Portsmouth Grammar Brass Band.
Before doing the honours, the Lord Mayor, councillor Frank Jonas, said he wanted some ‘peace and quiet’ for Christmas, and added: ‘I would like to thank the performers.
‘These kids have been great and they have danced like maniacs.
‘We should all put our hands together for them. And well done to everybody for turning out this evening.’
Rob McVeigh, who plays Prince Valentine in Snow White, in the Kings Theatre pantomime, revealed he has only just received his script.
Charlie the Clownfish and his penguin chum came from the Blue reef Aquarium to lend a hand.
Among those who joined the fun were Aojapi Makentoudi and her husband Gino Kordinas of Collingwood Road, Southsea, with their 14-month-old son Michael.
Aojapi said: ‘We’re from Greece and this will be our first Christmas here.
‘It’s a really nice atmosphere here and it’s great for the kids.’
Helen and Paul Van Esseveld came along with daughter Amy, five, and several of their friends.
Helen, 41, of Sutherland Road, Southsea, said: ‘We love it – we come every year. I even finished work early to get here.’
Leyla Benali was there with her daughter Lily, five.
She said: ‘It’s good free family entertainment and we try to go to as many of these each year as we can.
‘My mum lives in Cosham so we go to that one, the Gunwharf Quays one and in Commercial Road.’
Fred Maupin and Emily Vincent brought along their two children, Leo Maupin-Vincent, one, and Noah Maupin-Vincent, three.
Fred, of Delamere Road, Southsea, said: ‘We haven’t come before. Leo was too young, so we thought we’d come along this time and see what it’s like.
‘It’s really good for the kids.’