Published: 06:00, 25 December 2020
There were tears of joy this Christmas as children who couldn’t see Santa due to coronavirus restrictions were visited on their street by Saint Nick and his sleigh.
In place of the annual lights switch-on event, Sittingbourne’s Christmas Lights Committee put together a daily drive-by this month from the man in red and his elves, with the help of the South East 4x4 response rescue team, to lift festive spirits.
The group, which expanded its usual doorstep visits to incorporate the whole town this year, set out on their first trip on December 4.
They estimated they reached double the number of families this year than in 2019.
Looking back on their hard work, chairman of the Christmas lights committee, Danielle Hoynes, praised the group for putting a smile on people’s faces during these hard times.
“We must have seen hundreds of children this year,” she said.
“We had a massive welcome from residents which really choked us up.
“People were posting pictures and videos of their young ones crying because Santa had come.
“Some parents even messaged us to say their children were shouting at him through the letterbox to come back.
“It really was quite magical and it’s definitely what people needed as it’s been such a rotten year, which is why we worked so hard to do something.”
Danielle has been chairman of the committee for around 15 months but has been part of the group for six years.
She said: “It was so nice to see the children happy, laughing and smiling away as so many weren’t able to see Santa this Christmas.
“It’s been such a tough year for everyone that these little things we can do make it so worthwhile. It’s such a humbling position to be in for me knowing I can bring so much joy from these little things.”
The committee travelled around Sittingbourne visiting hundreds of homes, as well as the town’s police station in Central Avenue, McDonald’s and a number of supermarkets to cheer up workers.
Danielle added: “We love doing it as it’s so unexpected for them, they don’t expect to be stacking shelves or working and seeing Santa outside.”