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'Elf and safety' comes first for Santa

'Elf and safety' comes first for Santa

Thursday 06 December 2018

'Elf and safety' comes first for Santa

Criticism over the new arrangements for the Christmas lights switch on in St Peter Port will be taken on board, but the event won't be moving back to Church Square next year.

A number of people complained that Market Square was too crammed on Saturday afternoon and that smaller children couldn't see Father Christmas or his helpers. It's claimed some children didn't get the opportunity to hand their letters over to Santa or any of the other characters there and a number of people said they preferred the event when it was focused in Church Square with a parade up the High Street after the lights had been turned on.


Pictured: Father Christmas during a previous visit to Guernsey. 

The decision to move the switch on event from Church Square to Market Square had been made a while ago and "was not taken lightly" said the Young Business Group, which also confirmed moving the event had been "under discussion for a number of years."

YBG is one of a team of organisations which help coordinate the event, along with the St Peter Port Constables, the St Peter Port Christmas Lights charity, the management company which runs the Market Square, States Works, Guernsey Police, representatives from the retailers in the High Street and the event sponsors, Sure.

As a non-profit organisation, volunteers from YBG represent a number of industries and the group said it is "very grateful to everyone involved who gave their time and resources to put together this magical event."

However, the team have acknowledged the criticism shared online since the switch on event last weekend, explaining that "one of the key reasons for the change was to increase the safety for the public, volunteers and Santa."

While there is no longer a parade up the High Street, YBG said there is still "a long parade from the Model Yacht Pond" towards the Market. That meant Santa's elves and helpers were getting very tired so for 'elf and safety' reasons the decision was made to move the event.

"The move to the Market Square would mean that after the switch on, Santa would no longer be going up the High Street to end the parade. After a long parade from the Model Yacht Pond past the bus terminus and into Town we were finding that Santa and the elves were running low on power to get them up the High Street. The risk to children and the community from the combination of the crush of the crowds and the sleigh being pulled by very exhausted elves was becoming increasingly concerning. Whilst we had the volunteer marshals and St John’s First Aiders on hand, with the huge numbers of people converging in the small space of the High Street we could not guarantee that someone would not get hurt."

The organisers have said they'll take the comments on board though, as they all just want the children to enjoy the event. 

"All feedback will be considered by the YBG and other contributors, and we will meet and agree on the improvements that can be made to the parade next year. We hope that the Christmas spirit shone through from the kindness of people involved in wanting to see the joy in children’s faces as they experienced the switch on of the Christmas lights this year."

Some children had also been upset that they couldn't give their letter directly to Father Christmas, but YBG has arranged for further collections from the post-box at the Sure shop on the High Street so everyone's letter will reach Father Christmas himself before the 25 December. 

"Santa has asked us to let everyone know that he understands that there was limited time to collect the children’s letters on Saturday but if they get their addressed letters to the post box at the Sure shop in Town he promises to write back.

"We have assured Santa that he will get more time next year to collect letters and also encourage people that are put off by the large crowds to consider meeting Santa along the parade route from the Model Yacht Pond to Fountain Street."

Guernsey Post also ensures letters posted at normal post boxes will reach the North Pole. 

Pictured top: Father Christmas, his Chief Elf and Mrs Elf at the 2018 Christmas lights switch on. 


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