Hundreds of people gathered in Red Lion Square in Stamford tonight (Friday) to see the Christmas lights being switched on.
Six-year-old Jessica Gois had the honour of leading the countdown and flicking the switch. A huge cheer rose up into the air as the lights on the Christmas tree twinkled.
Fireworks were then set off from All Saints’ Church in Stamford as the crowds cheered and whooped with delight.
Jessica, a pupil at Malcolm Sargent Primary School, was given the important task after winning a competition run by mayor of Stamford Bob Sandall to design his Christmas card.
Jessica rode with Santa from the Town Hall in St Mary’s Street to Red Lion Square in a sleigh, before joining Coun Sandall on stage.
Before the lights were turned on, pupils from Stamford School and Stamford High School sang carols, members of Wildcats performed solo songs and the angelic voices of children from Malcolm Sargent and St Gilbert’s primary schools filled the air as they sang festive carols.
There was also stalls selling glowsticks, mulled wine and soup to warm the crowds.
Jessica described her experience as “exciting” and said: “There were lots of people. I had a great time.”
Her proud parents Jenny and Luis Gois watched with Jessica’s siblings Jasmine, 18 months, and Jack, three months.
Jenny said: “It’s been a really nice family occasion and we have been made to feel very welcome. Jessica was great on stage and she kept waving when she saw someone she knew.”
Aftewards, Coun Sandall, who estimated there was more than 400 people in the crowd, said: “I thought it went brilliantly. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking but the lights came on at the right time and it looks great.
“It was a fantastic start to Christmas.”
Roberta Richardson, of Uffington, was there with her children Olivia, six, and Ellen, three.
She said: “This is the first time we have been to the lights switch-on but Olivia is in Wildcats and she performed so we came to watch her.
“It has been lovely and I like the Christmas tree much better this year.”
The real tree, which replaced last year’s ‘tree of lights’, a structure with fairy lights, was also welcomed by Emma Jarvis, who was there with her husband Colin and their sons Luke, nine, and Max, six.
Emma said: “We come every year and it is certainly nice to see a real tree this year. We are definitely looking forward to seeing the fireworks as that’s something a bit different.”