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Coolboy Christmas Lights celebrates 20 years of lighting the big tree with Santa arrival

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The lighting of the tree in Coolboy is a two decade old tradition.

The lighting of the tree in Coolboy is a two decade old tradition.

Helpers at Santa's grotto in the Little Moon Pub.

Helpers at Santa's grotto in the Little Moon Pub.

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The lighting of the tree in Coolboy is a two decade old tradition.

wicklowpeople

The Coolboy Christmas Lights group in Co Wicklow are celebrating their 20th anniversary, with the traditional lighting of the big tree and Santa’s arrival scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 3.

Celebrations will kick-off with fire and light entertainers, followed by fire works and a performance by a local choir. Santa will arrive by sleigh just in time to switch on the Christmas lights, before Old Saint Nick greets all the boys and girls in his grotto in The little Moon pub.

A bench will be unveiled to mark the special anniversary, which has been dedicated to those who have passed away in the area. There will also be a huge raffle and Christmas hamper draw, with proceeds going to finance future iterations of the two-decade old tradition.

The custom of the lighting of the tree began in Coolboy back in 2002, when local man Pat (Buller) Mulhall petitioned for lights to be erected on the Chestnut Tree on the village green. A group of dedicated locals came together to make Pat’s dream a reality and the practice has been a Christmas staple ever since. Sadly, inspiration Pat passed away just a few weeks ago.

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Over the following years the wider Coolboy community became involved and developed the event into the massively successful annual tradition it is today.

The festivities wouldn’t be possible without the small army of committee members and volunteers, who come together ahead of the event each year, to carry out work in preparation for lighting up night. An energising fry-up breakfast is prepared and served to them as thanks – a tradition that was started by the late Ann Kilbride and has been continued by her family each year since.

The dedicated members of the committee adapted and evolved during lock down. Instead of children visiting Santa in his grotto, Santa was driven around the area on his sleigh, waving and spreading joy to all the children as he passed their houses. His team of elves were still helpful, delivering selection boxes to the area earlier in the week.

The committee have funded the lighting of the tree and the associated entertainment over the past 20 years thanks to grants from Wicklow County Council and generous donations from elected members. Ahead of this year’s festivities Coolboy Christmas Lights Committee Secretary, Carmel Byrne, has been full of praise for Coolboy’s devoted volunteers and magnanimous sponsors.

“Twenty years of this Christmas tradition would not be possible without the hard working and dedicated committee, some of whom are still part of the group today,” Carmel said. “The support of Gavin and the South East Security Team have been essential in dealing with safety and traffic control, while Lorraine and Stephen of The Little Moon have graciously allowed us the use of their premises for our meetings. They have also facilitated Santa’s grotto over the years.

“We owe a big thanks to all our numerous sponsors and volunteers who have supported this great event year after year, by dipping into their own pockets and taking time out of their busy schedules to bring the Coolboy community closer together.”

The Coolboy Christmas Lights 20th Anniversary switch on event will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 3. There is a €5 charge to see Santa, which includes a toy per child. Family discounts will apply and there is no fee for adults.


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