ORGANIERS of the Fermoy Winter Wonderland Carnival have defended the event in the wake of criticism on Facebook over the cost of visiting Santa. It emerged this week that the cost of visiting Santa's Grotto at the carnival will be €15 per child.
That's much to the dismay of some locals, one of whom branded the cost as a 'joke' on Facebook.
Noel McCarthy, the chairman of the Fermoy Business Action Group, which have organised the event, said he could understand people's concerns.
However, he said that a lack of funding for this year's event left organisers with little option but to impose a charge for visiting Santa.
"For the past two years we received funding from the Avondhu Blackwater Partnership to help cover the cost of running the event. Unfortunately, that is not the case this year so the event has to be self-funding," he said.
"We would love to do the whole thing for nothing, but we simply do not have the funding needed to do that," he added.
Mr McCarthy said a visit to Santa's Grotto would offer great value for money as it will include a parcel and entrance to a kiddie's playground with slides, a bouncy castle and other attractions.
"If we did not do it this way, there would be no Winter Wonderland this year. That is the bottom line," he said.
Meanwhile, the Christmas lights will be turned on in Fermoy tonight ( Thursday) at 6.30pm in Fitzgerald's Place by children from the seven local national schools.
This will be followed by the official opening of the Winter Wonderland in the former Cork Marts site at 7pm.
The highlight of the carnival will be a 12 minute fireworks display, sponsored by local businessman Dave Ryan, at 8.30pm on Sunday evening.
"A lot of hard work has gone into staging the Winter Wonderland Carnival this year and I hope that people recognise this and come out over the weekend to lend it their support," said Mr McCarthy.