An estimated 5,000 people crammed into Helston town centre on Friday night for what has been described as “probably the biggest and best switch-on yet”.
Compared by one onlooker to “Flora Day crowds times two”, the festive throng centred around Coinagehall Street, where the main stage had been set up, but spilled into Wendron Street and Meneage Street where there were festive stalls.
The main streets were closed to traffic at 5pm and the centre stage was quickly built to host the main acts of the evening.
ACT2 theatre group performed for half an hour before the CuldRoses Military Wives Choir took to the stage. St Stythians Male Voice Choir lent their raised steps to elevate the performers on the stage, while Mark the ‘PA man’ projected the sound up the street.
At 7pm Helston Town Band played carols to get everyone in the Christmas spirit and ready for the switch on.
The evening was compered by Mark Upton from the Epworth Hall, introducing town mayor Jonathan Radford-Gaby and Rev Danny Reed to speak in the run up to the 7.30pm fireworks display sponsored by Borlase & Co Solicitors.
The CuldRoses counted down from ten and the town became a blaze of colour as the lights were switched on and the fireworks lit.
Entertainment continued through the evening with horse drawn carriage rides by The Lizard Stallions, carousel rides for children and music from buskers and singers in various spots around town, with hot food outlets doing a roaring trade.
Lots of businesses who stayed open late reported busy trading through the evening.
Earlier in the year Robert Williams, who has organised and improved Helston’s Lights for the last 20 years, asked at a Helston Business Improvement Partnership meeting for help in organising the stallholders and entertainment on the switch-on night, as the event had grown so popular. An eager committee was formed and the hours of planning paid off.
Mr Williams has thanked Cornwall Council, Helston Town Council, the town’s police, town marshals, St John Ambulance, Helston Fire Brigade, Culdrose and Serco for their help with the event, as well as ‘Bobby and Eva’ for the firework display, the many businesses around the town that donated free electricity for the lights and the street cleaners for cleaning up the following morning.
He also thanked his wife Dawn for putting up with the many hours of absence over the last few months.
Thoughts are now turning to Helston Christmas Fayre on Friday, December 14 when Father Christmas will be visiting in his new sleigh to collect letters from schoolchildren and Swamp Circus stilt performers will be around the town. Visitors can enjoy a horse drawn ride with the Lizard Stallions from near the Gryll’s Monument, where the Pentire Singers will be performing.
Primary schools in the area have been sent 3,500 pamphlets listing events in Helston over the festive period, as well as the Town Trail clues that encourage families to visit 20 shops in town for answers, with the winners receiving cash prizes.
There is also a pull-out section where children can write to Father Christmas and then post their letters in special post boxes outside The Guildhall and the Methodist Church for him to collect on the Christmas Fayre evening.
Letters are about to go out to businesses asking for a contribution towards the Christmas Light Fund and members of the public can also make a donation by sending a cheque, made out to ‘Helston Christmas Lights’ to 10 Meneage Street, Helston, TR13 8AB.