Photo gallery: Flood-struck Wells bounces back with jubilant Christmas Tide festival

A large crowd turned out in Wells to see Father Christmas arrive on the quay by boat. Picture: Ian Burt

The determined seaside town of Wells proved it would not be beaten by the misery of last week's tidal surge as the community joined together for a jubilant display of Christmas spirit.

Hundreds gathered on the quayside for the colourful climax of the Wells Christmas Tide festival, to see Santa Claus welcomed in by boat, met by an illuminated lamp-lit parade and an adoring crowd of children.

The scenes were a far cry from the destructive floods which left several quayside businesses closed for the festivities.

But this time it was festive cheer which overflowed on the seafront, helped by the Ukulele Singing Elves, donkey 'reindeers', and the fire twirlers and drummers who led the parade from Staithe Street.

The atmosphere built to a festive frenzy as harbour master Robert Smith orchestrated the calls of 'We want Santa!' from the hundreds of children lining the quay.

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And although the man in the red suit normally slips stealthily down chimneys, there was no such secrecy for this arrival – on a motor boat, flanked by dancing snowmen and accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display.

Once he made his way up the pontoon, he was swamped with a crowd of youngsters eager to tell him their gift wishes and find out whether they were on his naughty or nice list.

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Mr Smith said the annual event, which brought visitors into the town from as far afield as York and Glasgow, was even more important this year after last week's floods.

'A lot of people asked the question of whether we were going to continue,' he said. 'But it made us more determined if anything. Everyone wanted to make a very special effort. We wanted to show true British spirit and carry on.

'We have had our problems this week, but we are not defeated and we have come back stronger than ever.

'Every year it seems to get bigger, and people come here from all over the country just for Wells Christmas Tide. It brings in quite a lot of revenue into the town. We have taken a hit this week, so it is even more important to bring these people in.

'A lot of people work very hard to make this happen, and it was well worth it in the end.'

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