Thousands of revellers flocked to Mansfield Town Centre to watch a spectacular fireworks display mark the town’s big Christmas lights switch on.
Mansfield Town Centre was a hive of activity today on Sunday when a huge crowd enjoyed a day of festive activities culminating in the town’s Christmas lights switch on.
The switch was thrown amid a cacophony of fireworks at 4.50pm.
For one disabled child it was an unforgettable experience.
Eight-year-old Lillie-May Holey was chosen to perform the honour of switching on Mansfield’s Christmas lights and it was be a double celebration for her family as the occasion also falls on her mum’s 31st birthday.
Her mum, Amanda Munt, from Forest Town said: “It was a great for Lillie-May, she has been through so much.”
Lillie experienced numerous touch-and-go visits to intensive care since she was born 17 weeks prematurely weighing just 530g (1lb 2oz) at delivery.
As result of her prematurity, the little girl suffers from various complex problems including developmental delay, is on oxygen and has a tracheostomy for chronic lung disease, and has heart problems.
“She ends up in intensive care regularly,” said Amanda. “And they always say ‘there is nothing more we can do’ and we think we may lose her and then she pulls it back somehow. She just gets on with it - she is such a smiley happy girl.”
Lillie-May won the switch-on experience for a child aged 5 to 11, thanks to the generosity of a Mansfield business which brought it as a prize in a charity auction run by Mansfield’s 103.2 radio station in aid of the John Eastwood Hospice Trust.
She pressed the switch onstage, joined by Father Christmas, Paddington Bear, the cast of the Christmas panto Aladdin, following a rip roaring performance by Slade tribute act Feel the Noize.
Mansfield Mayor Kate Allsop who joined in the celebrations, said:“It has been an absolutely fantastic day and now Christmas has really begun.
“The tree is always so beautiful- it has more than 5,000 bulbs and must be the biggest we’ve ever had.
“I am so pleased the weather held out for everyone to enjoy themselves.
“For everybody involved in making this a special day I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart - they have done Mansfield proud.”
During the day at biggest annual event in Mansfield’s calendar families enjoyed free fun and festive activities from 11am.
Granparents Susan and Philip Stroud of Boughton brought their granddaughter Eve, 3, for the whole day: Mrs Stroud said: “She has had a great time, meeting Father Christmas and joining in the Buzzy B Club where she made a hat and lantern.
“It’s been lovely for the children.”
Children joined in a circus skills and magic workshop in the Market Place at 11.30am and made Aladdin’s hats and lanterns at the Buzzy B Club in the Four Seasons Shopping Centre and an Aladdin-themed treasure hunt organised by Mansfield BID.
Santa’s horse drawn sleigh paraded down Westgate from St John Street to open his Toy Factory grotto at the Four Seasons Shopping Centre.
SThe Market Place had a Christmas party atmosphere with singing, dancing, games and prizes on stage from 3pm to 3.30pm.
It was followed by live music from Ashley Rebanks who sang a selection of Michael Bublé and Rat Pack inspired Christmas favourites and Slade tribute band Feel the Noize.
The Big Switch On event is organised by Mansfield District Council with support from Mansfield 103.2, Mansfield Palace Theatre, Mansfield BID, Four Seasons Shopping Centre and 6 Five 2s taxis.