THE sound of ‘Ho Ho Ho’ as Father Christmas rolled into town drew cheers from the waiting crowds.
Hundreds of people gathered in St Peter’s Square, Emsworth, for a memorable night of merriment as the Christmas lights were switched on.
Esme Howard, four, who is the youngest school child in Emsworth and attends St James Primary School, switched on the lights.
Erika Biddlecombe, deputy headteacher of St James, said: ‘It brings the community together and gives everyone a blast of festive cheer.
‘It’s important we have the church service to remind children of the true meaning of Christmas.’
Jackie Branson, from Havant Rotary Club, which organises Santa’s sleigh, said: ‘We have had the band playing and children singing from local schools.
‘It’s absolutely wonderful.
‘Emsworth is great at these community events. It’s stunning the way people come out every time.’
Children from Thorney Island school, Emsworth Primary, and St James entertained the crowds with carols.
The lights are paid for by Emsworth Business Association.
Lulu Bowerman, one of the organisers, said: ‘There’s great community spirit and it gets better every year.
‘We are lucky because we have the Square and it’s a natural place for people to gather. It’s the first event where everyone starts to celebrate Christmas.’
Meanwhile, one of Portsmouth’s busiest thoroughfares, London Road, was bathed in colour as the lights were switched on in North End.