Santa banned from throwing sweets

FATHER Christmas has been banned from throwing boiled sweets to crowds of happy children in Colchester - in case he injures one of them.

By Roddy Ashworth

FATHER Christmas has been banned from throwing boiled sweets to crowds of happy children - in case he injures one of them.

The festive figure had been due to join the Mayor of Colchester and shower youngsters with mint humbugs from the town hall balcony as part of the town's annual Christmas Fair on Sunday.

But organisers said yesterday that new health and safety rules meant that throwing the sweets is now forbidden - and instead, the pair will toss marshmallows and soft cakes down onto the High Street.

Yesterday Don Quinn, the man behind the event, said the traditional Christmas distribution of sweets dated back to “time immemorial”.

He added: “It is an old Colchester tradition for the mayor to throw sweets to children from the balcony with Father Christmas.

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“We revived the tradition about four years ago at the Christmas Fair.

“However, there has recently been a piece of case law saying you can't throw boiled sweets, because somebody somewhere got hit by one and was injured.

“I suppose in theory you could get hurt, but you would have to try pretty hard.”

Mr Quinn stressed that although humbugs and lollipops would not be tossed from the first floor of the town hall, they would still be given out at ground level while the cakes and marshmallows were distributed from above.

“It will not stop the tradition, but we will simply be adapting to the new rules,” he said.

Colchester Mayor Ray Gamble said: “It is a difficult one because I suppose you can see both points of view.

“But it does seem a shame that political correctness and health and safety is changing the complexion of traditions in this country.

“However if it saves a child from the dangers of being hit by a boiled sweet, and instead being hit by a marshmallow, there must be a point to it I suppose.

“I would add that to my knowledge nobody has ever been injured before.”

The sweet giveaway will take place in the High Street shortly after the Christmas Fair is opened by the mayor and the town crier at 11am.