Towns get in the festive spirit

By Richard Smith and Jenni DixonTHOUSANDS of people braved the cold weather to watch Christmas come to four East Anglian towns with the switching-on of their festive lights.

By Richard Smith and Jenni Dixon

THOUSANDS of people braved the cold weather to watch Christmas come to four East Anglian towns with the switching-on of their festive lights.

There was an explosion of light and a celebration of dance and music as the Christmas lights were switched on in Felixstowe on Saturday.

Shoppers were treated to an afternoon of activities with a display by the Technotronics Majorettes, music from the Cavendish Community Church Band, the Deben School of Samba and the Salvation Army Band.

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Children paraded along Hamilton Road with lanterns and candles before Felixstowe mayor, Don Smith, and competition winners, Amelia Butcher, a pupil at Deben High School, and Stuart Cheadle, of Orwell High School, flicked the switch to turn on the lights.

Felixstowe Lions Club organised the events and afterwards the crowd was entertained by Kingsound Disco and Christmas music.

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Crowds also enjoyed a festive fun time in Aldeburgh on Saturday as the carnival queen and Father Christmas were escorted into the town ahead of switching on the High Street lights.

There was also entertainment from Punch and Judy veteran Wayne Burns and the Del Lloydo Clowns, street stalls, face painting, carol singing from the primary school choir, music from the Royal British Legion, food and mulled wine and even snow, thanks to two snow machines.

Richard Kihl, co-ordinator of the town's Lights Festival, said: "Our aim this year was for it to be a children's festival and it was a spectacular success."

There was also a festive sparkle in Diss on Saturday as it put last year's "mean streets" tag behind it.

Watching crowds gave three deafening cheers BBC Look East presenter Stewart White switched on the Christmas lights.

It was the highlight of a fun-filled afternoon staged by Diss Business Forum, which raised more than £15,000 to give the town a real Christmas feel after the embarrassment of 12 months ago when there was only £5 in the kitty to repair vandalised lights.

"I have lived around Diss for 20 years and I think it's a fabulous place and what makes it so special is when the chips are down people get together and do the community proud," said Mr White.

Forum vice-president Paul Hammond said the celebration had been "absolutely fantastic" and added: "We were a completely new team in the forum when we started the lights appeal in March, not knowing where we were going to get to. Our reward is to see all these people here today."

There was more fun in Framlingham yesterday afternoon as the town council hosted its fourth Christmas market for charities and voluntary organisations before the chaplain from St Elizabeth Hospice conducted a short service to dedicate the lights on the Christmas tree.

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