Last Friday evening I was transported back in time. I was on Pateley Bridge High Street for the traditional late night opening event which proved to be a spectacular, successful and magical occasion.
Organised by the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade which I chair, all the planning and preparation came together to help create a Christmas scene that could have been from times gone by. I spoke to a couple who told me that they had come from County Durham to stay in a cottage in Pateley Bridge for the weekend.
They did not know about the late night event and said walking onto the High Street was like being on the set of a fairytale film.
They said they were just in time to see a fire engine with blue lights flashing and sirens sounding. Santa was sat in the passenger seat of the fire engine waving to the crowds.
The couple said they had enjoyed the evening so much that they intended booking the cottage again so that they could come along to the event next year.
Their only disappointment apparently was that they had been hoping to have an evening meal in the Crown pub, but as it was so busy all the tables were taken up. Instead they had fish and chips which they said they enjoyed while stood in the street soaking up the atmosphere.
Friday evening was a community event with the Dacre and Summerbridge Silver band playing Christmas tunes as nearby Nevin Ward led the Pateley Bridge Christmas choir in singing unique regional Christmas songs. Methodist Mike played the guitar as Julia his wife, Jill Quinn and supporters of the registered charity Dementia Forward had a sing along in Kings Court raising money for the charity.
Steve Boast led his Ukulele group around like the pied piper of Pateley Bridge. The cold night air was filled with the sound of music as I turned the handle of an old barrel organ which had a dancing monkey on top of it. I kept warm turning the handle ‘round and round’ especially when I played ‘The Galop Infernal’ by Jacques Offenbach better known as the ‘Can Can’. That got a few people kicking their legs in the air!
The Scouts, Rainbows, Brownies and Guides had stalls for raffles raising money for their groups. Stalwart volunteer collector Barbara – sorry Margaret was in Pateley collecting for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity.
The Reverend Darryl Hall and Father Mike Walsh joined with people from the community as lots of them visited the shops were complimentary drinks and nibbles were being offered. Most of the shops reported that it was the best ever late night opening with a bumper evening’s trading.
At the bottom of the High Street the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) had two fire engines and an off road vehicle on display. One of the fire engines was manned by the Summerbridge Retained Firefighters. Children were loving every minute of sitting in the driver’s seat of the appliance as they turned on the blue lights and switched on the sirens. There was a serious side to the NYFRS being at the event as they were hoping to recruit locals to become on-call retained firefighters.
At the end of the evening Harrogate and Craven Watch Manager Martyn Hughes told me one person had filled out an application to join while several others had taken application forms. One person who did sign up to join was Santa and he was accepted on the spot as he has experience working at heights and on chimneys!
Merry Christmas everyone.