HUNDREDS of Waterlooville residents braved the inclement weather to celebrate the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights.
Families enjoyed a bumper evening of festive fun with a fairground, Christmas market, live music and carol singing. Children took part in a festive parade with prizes awarded for the best Christmas lanterns.
Jacob Green, 13, said: ‘I really enjoyed the switching on of the lights but it was also good to see some of my friends performing in the Cowplain Jukebox band.’
Father, Max Green, added: ‘It’s always nice to come and see the Christmas lights switch on. It really brings the community together and is a nice way to kick start Christmas.’
The shared honour of illuminating the town centre went to the mayor of Havant and Waterlooville, Cllr Diana Patrick and non other than Santa Claus himself.
Cllr Patrick said: ‘I always enjoy switching on the lights - this is what Christmas is all about. It is fantastic to see so many people here on such a wet night. I’m pleased for the organisers after last year’s event was spoiled due to the vandalism of the Christmas tree. Tonight has really got everyone in the festive spirit.’
Taking time out from awarding prizes for the best lanterns, Santa added: ‘This is my fourth year turning on the lights and it really is the best way to launch into Christmas.’
Leading the carols on stage was the Hampshire based Igloo Music Company.
Choir member, Dielle Hannah, said: ‘Singing the carols gets people in the mood for Christmas. My particular favourite was O Come All Ye Faithful.’
Joining the choir was husband and wife, Geoff and Val Davies.
Val commented: ‘We love to come down and join in with the singing and it was lovely to see the children in the parade. The event really brings the community together.’
The success of the switch on came as a welcome relief to the Waterlooville Events Team’s entertainment organiser, Merylyn Drayn.
Merylyn said: ‘This is a huge event for the town and the turnout has been fantastic. We were worried that no one would turn up with all this rain.’