Mayor and Mayoress of Skegness Coun Trevor and Jane Burnham enjoying Christmas at the Hildreds Centre in Skegness.

PICTURES: Skegness weathers storm to bring sparkling Christmas fun

The army of volunteers who were up at the crack of dawn at the weekend to bring Christmas to Skegness have been praised for their tireless efforts after Storm Arwen ripped through plans for festive events, leaving organisers and families "gutted"..

In a drama worthy of any of the festive movies on our television screens, hundreds of people travelled to the resort to enjoy Sunday's Christmas market and lights switch-on on Sunday after battering down the hatches on Saturday when the storm hit.

There was even snow at intervals during the day to add to the festive atmosphere.

The road to the Skegness Christmas Market and lights switch-on has not been without its challenges from the start.

Weeks ago there was the blow that Skegness would not be having its usual Friday night lights switch on outside the Hildreds Centre.

Then Taj Bola announced he was "saving Christmas" by planning a celebrity switch-on of the tree at the Hive on the seafront.

Alongside this, Skegness Carnival Committee were busy planning the return of the annual Skegness Market and entertainment for shoppers and the Hildreds Centre unveiled this year's fantastic decorations by manager Steve Andrews and his team.

On Friday there was a 'soft' switch-on of the Skegness Town Council tree and lights ready for the switch-on and, just when Christmas looked as it was truly saved, Storm Arwen arrived cancelling events across the country as well as in the resort.

But this is Skegness more than ever knows the show must go on and the new broke later on Saturday that events would go ahead on Sunday.

There was even a scattering of snow when volunteers turned up to put the covers on the 30 stalls erected along Lumley Road and prepare for the arrival of traders and the day's entertainers.

Carnival committee member Ady Findley said: "I can't tell you how gutted we were to cancel on Saturday, but the storm and safety concerns made it impossible for us to go ahead.

"We were delighted to be able to go ahead on the Sunday and so pleased to see how many people turned out to support it.

"Many said they could see how much effort we had put in and wanted to support us.

"Most of the traders said they had had a good day and liked the way the market was spaced out along Lumley Road, with many wanting to come back next year.

"I would like to say a massive thank you with total respect to all these volunteers that are the hidden army that make the Skegness Christmas market happen.

"Without these unsung hero’s there would be no market. Also to have to pack everything away takes a massive amount of hard work and it was freezing and snowing heavily but not a moan from one of them - just friendly supportive banter amongst a group of individuals that gave up there time to make it happen."

In spite of the storm cancelling the market on the Saturday, the entertainment including performers from this year's Neverland Theatre panto and Skegness Silver Band who bravely performed outdoors on both days still went ahead. The Skegness Carnival Queen and the Jolly Fishermen were there to welcome visitors and Christmas Tree Stilts and Bouncing Stars also added to the festive entertainment.

The Light Up Christmas switch-on with Chico and EastEnders star Jake Wood at the Hive was cancelled on Saturday night, but a smaller but still sparkling event followed the Christmas Market on Sunday evening.

Chico and Jake had made appearances inside the Hive on Saturday night, but there was only one star at the Sunday switch-on - Santa Claus.

In true 'Disney' style, the build up to Santa arriving on the roof of the building had children screaming - and many headed to the grotto even before the countdown of the lighting of the tree which had been hoisted up on the building.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Skegness, Coun Trevor and Jane Burnham, who had supported events throughout the weekend, went along to the switch-on with Deputy Mayor Billy Brookes to welcome the family for turning out in the snow.

Coun Burnham said: "It's great to see so many people here on the wintry night. The Hive have put this on because there was no switch-on.

"It's been a terrible 18 months for the country and the whole world and it's nice to have a bit of normality back.

"On behalf of Skegness Town Council we look like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and Happy New Year and let's make it a good one."

After the countdown to light up the Hive Christmas tree there was a fireworks display and Santa and his elves remained in the grotto to distribute gifts to the children.

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