Felixstowe Christmas lights fiasco

IF they turned it into a film, it would be Carry on Felixstowe.Kenneth Williams would be saying "oo-er", Sid James would have that exasperated hang dog look, and Charles Hawtrey would be running round causing mayhem and telling people not to panic.

By Richard Cornwell

IF they turned it into a film, it would be Carry on Felixstowe.

Kenneth Williams would be saying "oo-er", Sid James would have that exasperated hang dog look, and Charles Hawtrey would be running round causing mayhem and telling people not to panic.

After the fireworks no-one could see, the beacon that was never lit, and carnival procession that never arrived, this time it was the town's Christmas lights that were the victims in a long line of mishaps.

For when it comes to organising its premier events, hapless Felixstowe seems jinxed.

People turning up to see the resort's Christmas lights switched on were surprised and annoyed to find them – well, some of them – already on!

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Bemused shoppers arriving just for the big moment at 5.30pm found the lights had been switched on early – and they had missed it. Organisers had allocated 15 minutes for speeches which only took two!

"It was ridiculous. We were just getting out of the car and we could hear the countdown – by the time we got into Hamilton Road the lights were on. It was very disappointing," said one visitor.

But it wasn't a great moment for those who had joined the party early to sing carols and wait for the switch-on ceremony.

They saw mayor Doreen Savage and two of her grandchildren, Lauren Elmer, nine, and James Gorski, five, throw the switch to lighs the lights at the end of the countdown – only for a technical hitch to leave much of the town centre in darkness.

The Evening Star-sponsored tree lit up successfully, but none of the lamp post garlands or strings across Hamilton Road came on.

Technical experts had to spend several minutes, while fireworks went off, getting the 10,000 coloured bulbs illuminated to transform the shopping area into a festive fairyland. Last night at least six of the lampposts were still not working.

The mishap revived memories of when crowds gathered for the lighting of the Golden jubilee beacon which failed to happen after a mix-up, and the way grass and weeds were left long and gardens litter-strewn, a poor advert for the resort as 35,000 attended the event.

Last summer, hundreds were left waiting in Sea Road for a carnival parade which never arrived and the same event's fireworks were hidden by trees!

Despite Saturday's hitch, Felixstowe Lions – who organise the annual lighting display – said the day had been a great success, bringing out crowds despite the wet weather.

Before the switch-on, for which the rain stopped, dozens of families had taken part in a pretty candlelit parade from Bank Corner to Boots.

During the afternoon, there had been a packed programme of festive season entertainment and fundraising on The Triangle.

This included the Cavendish Community Church Band, majorettes, Felixstowe Musical Theatre and carols with the Salvation Army Band.

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