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By John Elworthy , The Editor
Sunday, December 2, 2012
IT seems invidious to single out any of those responsible for lighting up Chatteris again this Christmas- and besides most would rail against it in a town which prides itself on community.
Its 27 years since Chatteris decided it would light up each Christmas and whilst times changes – indeed on Saturday an electronic clock akin to the count down for the Olympics was definitely different to 1985- the focus remains.
At 4.15pm, and with just a quarter of an hour before switch on, you wonder if this would be the year people stayed home. The streets were near deserted, the silver band warmed up the handful of spectators with seasonal tunes, and the only stall doing early business was a see saw style waltzer that moved youngsters around at speeds to make your hair stand on end.
But as the switch on moment arrived, and if by a miracle, the centre was suddenly host to hordes of cheering, enthusiastic townsfolk ready for Santa’s arrival and for Christmas, in Chatteris, to officially begin.
A young schoolboy from Kingsfield named Tyler accompanied Santa to the podium, having been chosen to help perform the switch on, and then the town was aglow- and the moment the party began.
For several glorious, heart warming hours the mulled wine (£2 a cup and all proceeds to the lights) flowed, mince pies and coffee inside a crowded church were consumed (voluntary contributions seemingly a better bet than fixed price economics forming a welcome pile of cash) and then there were the stalls.
Nothing fancy for Chatteris but good old fashioned, good natured showmen lining the streets like they do every year for a winter fair that was both fun, nostalgic and price sensitive to keep hard pressed customers happy.
And alongside them, intermingled through the town, community stalls and local businesses contributing their bit to the festive spirit.
Each night through till early January the lights will welcome visitors to a town which rightly regard their efforts to be among the best.