‘Children have suffered enough’: can annual Santa sleigh tour beat Covid restrictions?

FLASHBACK: Santa doing his rounds - but the annual tour is in doubt this year because of coronavirus

FLASHBACK: Santa doing his rounds - but the annual tour is in doubt this year because of coronavirus restrictions Picture: Great Yarmouth Lions Club - Credit: Archant

A 50-year tradition that sees Santa on his rounds aboard his trusty sleigh could be one of the casualties of a “normal Christmas”.

The Great Yarmouth Lions Club sleigh is a festive highlight, drawing families out of their homes to give Santa a wave and make a donation to local good causes.

But with a ban on gatherings and non-essential journeys the charity’s 2020 tour is in doubt.

The charity said it was trying to make it work but would not know until December 2 if there was any way it could go ahead.

This year’s schedule was due to start on November 30, running through to December 18.

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Spokesman Gerry Crowther said a notice posted on the club’s Facebook page had “gone crazy”.

He said the overwhelming feeling from locals was that they must make every effort to make it happen with supporters posting comments like: “Children have suffered enough this year.”

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The Lions sleigh visits streets across Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, and the southern parishes - making longer stops at supermarkets and for the odd mince pie or sausage roll.

A statement said: “Behind this activity is a huge logistical operation, council permits, sleigh and vehicle maintenance, lighting and sound system and Santa’s helpers.

“Last year we completed 15 routes around the borough, attended five supermarkets and stores, switched on the lights in the Market Place and joined in the closing of the Christmas Market.

“In addition we visited three schools, Caister Brownies and the ambulance station.

“These combined visits enabled us to collect over £7,000, which in turn, means Great Yarmouth Lions Club could continue to support local good causes.

“We know that many mums and dads are anxious to know, what is going to happen this December - the truth is, at the moment, we do not know.

“We would like to run as normal, but the current Covid-19 restrictions/guidance really make it almost impossible to do so in a way that keeps everyone safe.

“We have carried out a very detailed risk assessment, this covers all aspects of the sleigh activity, it is quite an operation to meet the full social distance and safety guidance.

“Above all we must ensure that we keep everyone safe.”

People on social media are saying it is the highlight of their year and part of the magic of Christmas.

One woman said: “It wont be Christmas without it.”

Another added: “The kids need something to lift their spirits. Let’s keep our fingers crossed this can go ahead.”

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