THE Christmas season has officially kicked off in Tullamore.
Up to 15,000 people packed into the town centre on Sunday afternoon for the festive party to switch-on the town’s Christmas lights.
The official switch-on was performed by Tullamore College student, Nonso Muojeke who was the focus of a successful local and national campaign to stop him and his family’s deportation from the State to Nigeria earlier this year.
Nonso, with the aid of Santa Claus and the team from Midlands 103, performed the function with aplomb as thousands of children and their parents shouted out the countdown from William St and adjoining thoroughfares.
Sunday also saw the staging of the first of the town’s Christmas markets on Patrick St and the area was packed for most of the afternoon.
Visitors were particularly impressed with the wooden stalls which were specially commission by the Tullamore Christmas Project group to house the various businesses, mostly involved in craft and gourmet food.
The star of the show, Santa arrived at the train station at about 5.30pm and he was led toWilliam St by Clara Town Band, dancers and street entertainers.
Prior to his arrival the large crowd had been entertained by members of local church and school choirs and Ferbane singing sensation Joe Wynne.
The successful event was managed by the Tullamore Christmas Project , a partnership initiative between the Tullamore Business group, Offaly County Council and Tullamore Chamber of Commerce.
This year they have organised an improved festive programme of events for the Christmas season said lights chief co-ordinator and Henry St business man John Leavy.
He explained: “Tullamore Christmas Lights are a voluntary group who during the past year have been busy behind the scenes working with lighting consultants and Offaly County Council to introduce new lighting schemes across the town. Our objective is to enhance the festive lighting across the town as well as introduce a lighting plan to other areas of the town which has not had lighting in the past.”
Their primary source of funding to maintain, and commission lights on an annual basis is solely funded by the local businesses in the town and Offaly County Council.
Explained Mr Leavy: “This year we have purchased new lighting schemes for Market Square, Harbour Street, Patrick Street and O’ Carroll Street. We are excited about what we have achieved in the past few months and we have further ambitious plans to transform the town centre and O’ Connor Square I would like to take this opportunity to thank the local businesses in Tullamore for their annual donations. This continued support and working together is vital for us in achieving our plans into the future.”
The second of the planned Christmas Markets will take place at a venue to be announced from Friday, 21st to Sunday, 23rd December.
“We would like to also take this opportunity to thank Offaly Local Development Company for their support in landing the Christmas Market project this year,” added John Leavy.