Father Christmas makes double appearance in Suffolk at Framlingham and Mildenhall lights switch-ons
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A pair of Suffolk towns have joined the festive celebrations by having Father Christmas switch on their Christmas lights in the last few days.
This evening people gathered in Framlingham as its illuminations were unveiled while Thursday saw Mildenhall’s lights bring cheer to those who turned out.
In Framlingham hundreds of people gathered on Market Hill to witness the spectacle, which saw the man in red arrive by a horse drawn cart before heading into his Christmas grotto in The Crown Inn.
The whole town got behind the festive event with a Christmas market, horse drawn carriage rides and carol singers keeping young and old entertained, with local shop owners keeping their stores open for Christmas shoppers.
Reverend Martin Dawes from the United Reformed Church blessed the lights ahead of their official switch on in the town.
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The event was organised by the Framlingham Business Association. Chairman Richard Harrison said: “It’s created a really wonderful atmosphere in the centre of Framlingham.
“It has been a successful evening. It brings the community together, that’s the most important thing. It gives everyone a focal point.
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“For the traders, it’s important that they do well.
“We have had help from the sports club and so many other people setting up, just doing it for the community. Everyone’s pulling together and that’s great.”
Despite fears that Santa’s sleigh would be lost from the town of Mildenhall, the annual Christmas lights switch on successfully kicked off the festive season in the town on Thursday.
Organised by Mildenhall Parish Council, the event saw a range of activities on Market Place, with shops opening late and local primary school children doing the honours and pressing the plunger at 5.50pm after a countdown by Santa Claus.
Around 500 people attended the ceremony from 5.30pm until late evening, organised by parish councillor Ruth Bowman.
The annual Santa sleigh, which goes door to door collecting donations for charity, was very nearly cancelled this year, but successfully launched at the switch on and then went out collecting around the town for West Suffolk Hospital’s Rainbow Ward.
Mrs Bowman said: “It was brilliant. The weather was kind and lots of people came.
“I think children really enjoyed seeing Father Christmas light up the tree.”
Parish councillor David Bowman, Ruth’s husband, said: “The Lions usually run the sleigh but we had to disband them earlier this year due to only having five members left.
“So I tried to find another group to take it on, as I knew if we disbanded the sleigh would be lost for ever and it would be very expensive to get a new one.
“I was already chairman of the Forest Heath Crime Prevention Panel and managed to get them to take it on, so that is who will be running it this year.
“We are not doing as much as we normally do and knocking on every street, as getting the liability insurance in time was difficult.
“But we are doing some, starting with the switch on and going out in Mildenhall. It is not just raising money for charity, it the looks on the kiddies’ faces when they see Santa, I would have hated for them to miss out.”
Santa’s sleigh will visit Red Lodge on December 7, Beck Row on December 10 and West Row on December 17. All donations will raise money for Rainbow Children’s Ward at West Suffolk Hospital.
Yesterday also saw the annual lighting ceremony take place on RAF Mildenhall with the tree next to the Bob Hope Community Centre switched on.