Father Christmas and the Mayor of Kingston teamed up to turn on the Christmas lights on the streets of New Malden.
Father Christmas and the Mayor of Kingston teamed up on Friday to turn on the Christmas lights and bring festive cheer to the streets of New Malden.
The Christmas lights along New Malden High Street were switched on at 5.30pm by members of the local Rotary Club, which had organised the event.
The switch-on coincided with a festive parade including Father Christmas and the Mayor arriving in a sleigh, with a procession of elves and a Christmas Womble.
Patrick Codd, the Mayor of Kingston, attending with his wife Susan, the Mayoress, said he was proud to be part of the event.
“It has been a real winner. There have been big crowds, a great deal of excitement and the children have loved it. It is the perfect way to start off the Christmas season,” he said.
“It was quite exciting to sit on Father Christmas’ sleigh. It is something I have fancied doing all my life.”
The Mayor and Mayoress will spend Christmas Day visiting care homes around Kingston, as well as the YMCA.
“One of the great joys of Christmas is that it brings families together, but it can also be a lonely time for lots of people. We try to reach those for whom Christmas would not be so exciting if people did not look after them,” he added.
“It is about seeing the people who cannot get out or whose family cannot reach them and making sure that, for them, Christmas is also special. It is to embrace everyone so no one feels excluded.”
The Mayor also said Christmas is a time for the community to unite, with all different faiths coming together.
The festivities marked the start of Kingston Council’s free car parking initiative at Blagdon Road multi-storey car park, which gives shoppers four free hours of parking every Saturday until Christmas Eve in the town centre.
The scheme aims to boost trade in the run-up to Christmas and shoppers will be able to claim discounts by showing their parking tickets at participating shops.
Anthony Townsend, President of the New Malden Rotary Club, praised the initiative which has been organised by the Maldens and Coombe Neighbourhood Committee.
Mr Townsend said the Club was very pleased with the evening’s turnout.
He added: “There are lots of different nationalities living in New Malden and we like to help with community events like this evening.”
The parade ended in St. George’s Square where Santa and the Mayor handed out festive treats to the children, and a brass band played carols.
After handing out his final present of the evening, Father Christmas was in high spirits.
He said: “What being here means to me is the look on the children’s faces. It’s magical.”