Published: 18:21, 22 November 2021
| Updated: 18:25, 22 November 2021
Christmas has officially arrived in Sittingbourne after thousands turned out to witness Santa turn on the town's festive lights on Saturday.
He was joined on the High Street stage by Lansdowne Primary School pupils Harrison and Isabelle who had been picked to help him flick the switch.
Also at the ceremony were his elves Berry Sparkle and Buddy Gumdrop and compere Tracy Topsom from community radio station BRfm.
Danielle Hoynes, who chairs the Christmas lights committee of volunteers, said: "It was a wonderful day. People were in the High Street from 10am right through to the ceremony at 5.30pm."
The special attraction this year was Santa's post train which was parked in the High Street and had been paid for by Swale council. It was accepting letters to Santa which it was taking to the North Pole.
Specsavers also stumped up £2,500 to support the event. Retail director Suzi Rawes said: "It's our way of giving something back to the community we serve."
Staff handed out balloons, glow-in-the-dark spectacles and hi-vis jackets. There were also plenty of stalls selling candyfloss, glow sticks, German sausages and hot roast chestnuts.
A children's funfair with a merry-go-round, play area and test your strength machine was also popular along with Peppa Pig and two cats from Cats Protection Swale.
Iwade school teacher Aletha Persaud, who took her granddaughter Rhia, five, along, said: "It was a wonderful turnout. I think people have missed events like this. It's been a long time. Rhia can't remember the last time she saw anything like this."
She added: "Specsavers are to be congratulated for sponsoring it. And as a teacher, I particularly liked watching the children performing in the arena."
Among those on show were three solo singers from the Dream Academy, Danspiration dance troupe, Baby Ballerinas, AJ's dance troupe and the Crazy Captain pirate.
Sittingbourne Rock Choir and Becki Breiner's song-signing choir put on great performances along with the Artistic baton twirlers. Members of the Avenue Theatre performed shows from West End musicals.
There was also a solo guitarist called James, street dancing from Extreme Dance, a display by the Kent School of Dance and several showcases from Sittingbourne-based Kayleigh Carena Performing Arts including Irish dancers and young ballerinas.