The smiling faces stretched as far as the eye could see in West Street on Friday night, as around 5,000 people gathered to celebrate the magical start of the Christmas season in Drogheda.
Crowds of families flocked to the town centre to see Santa Claus turn on the magnificent Christmas illuminations, accompanied by local schoolchildren and choirs providing seasonal tunes to get everyone in the festive mood.
The fun and frolics started at 6pm, as LMFM’s Gerry Kelly welcomed the excited boys and girls from the stage, and kicked off an hour of local entertainment.
Pupils from St Brigids & St Patricks Primary School, St. Joseph's NS Mell Primary School, Our Lady's College Greenhills Secondary School and Coastal Ballet School delighted the audience with songs and performances, before Voices of the Boyne Community Choir got every toe in the place tapping with a selection of Christmas carols.
When it came time for the big switch on – to light up West Street, Narrow West Street, Stockwell Street, Peter Street, Shop Street, Dyer Street, Laurence Street and Duke Street, Santa was joined by the Mayor Michelle Hall and three lucky children who had won a colouring competition to join the fun.
6 and under - Sadie Burke Faulkner, 8 and under - Finn Lynch and 12 and under - Kateryna …. all helped in the countdown before the town was aglow once more with the twinkles of a myriad of lights.
“The reason it went so well was the level of teamwork from volunteers, support from the council, from our BIDs board, the schools, Voices of the Boyne Choir, the brass band, Coastal Ballet, Gerry who was a fantastic MC – everyone played their part in making it a success,” said a delighted Trevor Connolly, CEO of Love Drogheda BIDs. “The weather also played its part, as I think if the rain had arrived, we would have had a smaller crowd.”
The Lourdes Brass Band finished off the evening in style, and as the local cafes and restaurants extended the festivities for eager customers, thousands of happy faces went into the night with visions of the happy month ahead dancing in their heads.
"It is up to everyone in the town to keep the momentum going now, and get out onto the streets everyday and shop local as much as possible,” adds Trevor. “When you shop on online, you don’t get that type of experience, and you are supporting the local businesses in your community, as well as keeping the town vibrant, so make that special effort to come into town for your Christmas shopping and enjoy the lights.”