UP to 15,000 people are expected to throng Tullamore town centre for the official switch-on of the Christmas lights this Sunday evening at 5pm.
Regarded as the official start of the Christmas season in the county town, the official switch-on will be performed by three Offaly Special Olympics stars who claimed gold medals at the World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.
Seventeen year old Oisin Feery from Ballycommon took gold in the 200 metres kayaking event along with a bronze medal in the 500 metres event.
Damien Breslin, from Clareen, secured a gold medal in the 4 X 25 metres freestyle relay swimming event while Kilcormac’s Mark Sadler won gold in the singles tenpin bowling.
Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive at the reviewing stand on the junction of William St and Harbour St at 5pm sharp.
Prior to the switch-on Christmas favourites will be performed on the reviewing stand by the award-winning Sacred Heart School Choir while the St Colmcille’s Pip Band and the Clara BIG Band will also play.
Street entertainment including face painting for children will be provided in the town centre between 3pm and 5pm while the Christmas Market will take place at Distillery Lane/ Bridge Centre on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 7pm.
This year a massive €45,000 has been invested in the Christmas Lights said Henry St retailer, John Leavy, who is chairman of the Tullamore Christmas Project which co-ordinates the lights.
The Project is a partnership initiative between the Tullamore Business Group, Offaly County Council and Tullamore Chamber of Commerce.
“This year we have extended new lighting onto High St and O’Connor Square and provided a new feature Christmas tree in the middle of the square,” outlined Mr Leavy.
New perimeter lights have also been erected in the square and the ever-popular Santa’s pillar post-box has been installed.
Mr Leavy revealed that next year it is hoped to provide new lighting from Kilbeggan Bridge up to High St. Added Mr Leavy: “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,” he outlined.
Mr Leavy said his group had worked closely with Offaly County Council and Tullamore Municipal District on the project for this year and would like to take them and the local councillors for the funding allocated.
He also extended thanks to Offaly Local Development Company for its invaluable support.
Mr Leavy also thanked the local business community for their ongoing generous support. “This continued support and working together is vital for us in achieving our plans into the future,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the “It’s Your Town” pre-Christmas promotion aimed at attracting shoppers into Tullamore was launched by Tullamore traders last night [Tuesday] at a function in the Bridge House Hotel.
The campaign will feature a special “Super Tuesday” promotion on December 3 next with major discounts, late openings and a host of giveaways.
The campaign is the brainchild of hard-pressed traders whose business have been hit during the Street Enhancement Scheme works.
It is being held in conjunction with Tullamore Chamber of Commerce and has the backing of Tullamore Municipal District Council.
Members of the council voted at their monthly meeting last week to spend discretionary funding on promoting Tullamore.
The promotion follows on from a meeting of traders held earlier this month attended by over 70 people, representing 55 different businesses.
“Everyone has been crying all year. We said enough of the moaning and groaning, let’s do something about it,” explained Ciaran Stewart of Supermacs who chaired the meeting.
He said the promotion will feature a special advertising and social media campaign on the “It’s Your Town” theme which has the support of local celebrities such as Chasing Abbey, Jordan Conroy and Ruaille Buaille.
“There will be a radio giveaways each day throughout the month of December featuring different businesses,” added Mr Stewart who revealed that special videos of the town have also been commissioned for a social media campaign.
The promotion will also highlight the 2,000 free car parking spaces available in Tullamore, outlined Mr Stewart.