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Christmas lights switch on

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Hundreds of people braved a heavy downpour in Harrogate last night for the switching-on of the town’s Christmas lights.

Festive spirit won out over the wet weather, with great crowds of people turning out to enjoy the festivities.

There were stalls and music, bell-ringers and choir-singers, and for the big switch on, presenters from Stray FM were joined on stage by district dignitaries, the Jake and Elwood Blues brothers and Father Christmas himself.

“It’s great, it’s a bit of a shame about the rain,” said 18-year-old Kiri Wood, who went with friend Peter Messenger, 20. “But there’s lots of people here anyway!”

“I’ve never been before, it’s not as big or as fancy as Leeds, but I’m having a good time.”

James Sturgess, from Bilton, brought his two children, both pupils at Oatlands Infants.

“The Blues Brothers were great,” he said. “There’s a lot more people here than I expected with the weather.

His son, Hugh, six, said: “They’re beautiful. I love the blue. I like the Christmas tree and I like Father Christmas.”

His sister Grace, five, added: “I like the Christmas lights and I like the shapes.”

Festivities had begun at 4pm, with singers and bell-ringers from St Peter’s School, before performances from St Aidan’s brass band, ForCuba, Jake and Elwood Blues and Purple Mafia.

Harrogate’s Christmas Lights, organised by volunteers from the Harrogate at Christmas committee, have been funded by donations from businesses and retailers throughout the year, with a £10,000 donation from Harrogate Borough Council.

Dignitaries, including the Mayor and Mayoress, Coun Robert and Sylvia Windass, the MP, Andrew Jones, and chair of the Harrogate at Christmas committee, John Fox.

For the first time this year, the Christmas lights are being complimented by a Christmas market at the bottom of Montpellier Hill, which will run until Sunday, November 25.

Julie Wood, from Jennyfield, brought her two sons, both pupils at New Park Primary School.

“A lot of work has gone into it, they’ve done a really good job,” she said.

“The lights are great and it brings the town together.”

Her son Tom, nine, said: “The bad bit is the weather, the good bit is the lights and the stages.

“And Santa. It’s very colourful.”

His brother Ben, six, said: “I don’t like the weather but I do like the music and Santa.”

 

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