SANTA Claus got a big welcome from Whaley Bridge families, as Christmas officially started with the Lights switch-on. The weather was suitably wintry. As Santa arrived on the lit-up Rose Queen float at Footsteps , a county council gritter drove along Market Street (a sign of even colder weather to come. In fact light snow dusted the tree in the Jodrell car park less than 12 hours later.)
The wintry weather caused a rethink to Santa’s traditional arrival by canalboat. Instead he just appeared among the waiting children and families at the canal basin for his triumphal journey to Footsteps. There, the grotto and lots of young helpers were waiting to bring joy to a large queue of excited youngsters.
Meanwhile, Whaley Bridge’s own morris group Powderkegs – some of the dancers in hats lit up by fairy lights – entertained on the pavement near Canal Street. Young children joined in the occasional dance.
Whaley Bridge Band, in winter-defying form, ushered in the Lights switch-on by town chairman John Swift. More than 200 people thronged the car park to join in carols, led by the band. With a lot of young faces, the band has made remarkable progress in the last year.
Market stalls and a tea room in the Mechanics’ Institute added to the ‘night out’ feeling and a number of shops stayed open to help people get going with their Christmas shopping.
Seasoned spectators thought the whole evening one of the best recent years.