ON a beautiful crisp and clear Friday evening, Downpatrick celebrated the coming of Christmas with a spectacular switch-on and fabulous festival entertainment.
The magnificent tree in St Patrick’s Square played host to a large, excited crowd awaiting the arrival of the Santa’s Parade down Market Street ahead of the switch-on.
Downtown’s very own Breakfast Crew Kirsty McMurray and Garry Miles captured the audience’s attention with lots of great humour, fun and games by getting everyone involved and the children excited awaiting the arrival of Santa.
There were numerous prizes provided by the generous retailers of Downpatrick to give some of the eager crowd some early Christmas cheer including Tommy McLauglin from Strangford who won a selection of Family prizes for his creative Christmas tree decorating. The boys bike (donated by Halfords) was won by singing sensation Ben O’Hare from Downpatrick.
Meanwhile the girls had a fantastic ‘Dance-Off’ for the AJC sponsored 7-inch Tablet and a wonderful hairdryer from Gordons Chemists, which was eventually won by Rachel Denvir, Gangnam Style! These young entertainers had the whole crowd enthralled until the arrival of Santa aboard his classic car.
He was accompanied as ever by Mrs Claus, a host of festive characters on stilts and seasonal statues from the South Eastern Regional College (Arts and Design students), P7 pupils of Our Lady and St Patrick Primary School, the local Beavers and Cubs not to mention the fantastic Downpatrick Hospitals Pipe Band.
On his arrival to the stage, the Chairperson of Down District Council, Councillor Mickey Coogan, congratulated all the performers and welcomed everyone to Downpatrick for the festive season, encouraging them all to shop local and boost our local traders. He continued by congratulating all of the local businesses for their contribution to the evenings entertainment before wishing all the residents, traders, children and visitors a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
As the tree lighting ceremony was about to commence, the two children who had accompanied Mrs Claus and the Chairperson in the parade, Jamie Marks and Dearbhla Creggan, both helped Santa, the Chairman and Gary and Kirstie to press the plunger which illuminated the spectular tree in St Patrick’s Square.
A rapturous applause erupted from the enthusiastic crowd. Fun and games followed the switch on with Michelle McDowell bagging herself a wonderful prize of a nights B&B at the Burrendale Country Club and Spa, while Ashley Flynn scooped the ultimate make-over prize kindly donated by Lisa’s Hair Studio, Flowers by Tracey and Posh Nails.
Down District Council Chairperson Councillor Mickey Coogan said: “It was a wonderful evening which undoubtedly encouraged magnificent crowds to enjoy the Christmas lights switch-on and it gave the Downpatrick businesses an opportunity to showcase their retail and service offering and encouraging everyone to shop local during the current economic challenging times.”
Down District Council would like to offer a huge thanks to local traders who kindly donated some fabulous prizes: Halfords; Downe Travel; McCartans; Asda; Burrendale Hotel, Country Club & Spa, Eclipse Cinema; Gordon’s Chemist; Posh Nails; Una’s Hair Studio; Lisa’s Hair Studio; Wilson’s Family Butchers; Oakley Fayre and Norma J’s, Raw Spice, AJC Electrics & Flowers by Tracey.
Winner: Tommy McLaughlin, Strangford
Runner Up: Gareth McDoll, Downpatrick
Winner: Rachel Denvir, Downpatrick
Runner Up: Chloe Connor, Dundrum.
Winner: Ben O’Hare, Downpatrick
Runner Up: Jamie McMenimen
Winner: Michelle McDowell, Downpatrick
Runner Up: Lisa Hagan, Downpatrick
Winner: Ashley Flynn, Downpatrick
Runner Up: Emily Barr, Saintfield