FESTIVE lights and a Christmas tree are a familiar sight in Great Yarmouth as the town gets into the holiday spirit.

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But this year these Christmas classics will be joined by dozens of charitable St Nick’s as the town prepares to host its first ever Santa Run.

Organised by East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each) the novelty race, which began in Bury St Edmunds in 2006, encourages entrants to don a Santa suit - topped off with a hat - and complete a circular route of the seaside resort.

But the fancy dress guidelines are not strict and participants are welcome to come as an alternative Christmas character, such as a Christmas tree or reindeer - both of which have featured at previous events.

The Santa run will be taking over the town on Sunday, December 9 and it is hoped fundraisers of all ages will turn out in force to take part. Entrants are welcome to run, jog, walk or stroll the 1.7km route and to even bring their pets along for the festive day out.

Ahead of the festive frolics a set of St Nicks, complete with beards, braved the cold and lined the town’s beach to promote the run. Staff from the Comfort Hotel - which is sponsoring the event, struck a pose on the sand much to the amusement of passers by.

Gary Cook, Each fundraiser, said: “We’re really excited about the Great Yarmouth Santa Run as it’s a brand new event and it’s taking place in an absolutely brilliant location.

“You don’t expect to see Santas running along the seafront so we hope it will be as much fun for the spectators as it will be for the participants.

“It isn’t a race; you can run, walk, or jog it’s up to you, and it’s open to everyone as it’s suitable for wheelchair and pushchair users. You can even bring well behaved dogs on leads to join in the fun.”

Since the first event six years ago, the al fresco fundraiser has expanded across the region and in 2011 races were held in Peterborough, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Braintree and Ipswich raising more than £47,000 for Each.

The event run sets off from the Wellington Pier at 11am. Registration costs £10 for adults, including a Santa suit, or £8 without and £5 for children under 13 including a Santa hat.

For more information visit www.each.org.uk or call 01953 715559 for an entry form.

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