Lights! Christmas! Action! Elm Park switch-on

WITH just three weeks until Christmas, Elm Park residents helped get festivities underway with a spectacular lights switch-on.

Around 500 residents braved the chill to gather in Elm Park town centre for the annual Christmas tree lights switch-on, held on Friday night.

Local Upminster MP Angela Watkinson and Dagenham & Rainham MP Jon Cruddas helped do the honours, flicking the switch to a cheering crowd.

Youngsters were entertained with Santa’s Grotto, a fake snow machine, carousel rides, face painters, stilt walkers and a very special sleigh pulled by two miniature ponies.

Carol singers from Elm Park Primary School also kept the festive spirit flowing, while shopkeepers offered free Christmas food passersby.

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Residents and shop keepers also got into the spirit by donning their best ‘toy’ outfit, as part of this year’s theme.

The streets were busy with wacky Barbie doll, Thunderbird and Ghost Buster costumes, with Pauline Hough from Richard House charity shop in The Broadway scooping the best dressed prize for her Raggy Doll outfit.

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Havering mayor Cllr Pam Light, who presented the prize, said: “I told her she looked great. And she said: ‘Thanks but I’m bloody freezing!’

“The best thing about Elm Park is its community spirit. It was a lovely atmosphere down there.”

Greengrocer Jeff Parker, who runs A T Thake & Sons in Station Parade, was also presented with the award for best dressed window from both the MPs.

MP Angela Watkinson said: “There’s a real community spirit in Elm Park. I really take my hat off to Ingrid Brandon from the Elm Park Regeneration Partnership who helped organise it.

“The Santa’s Grotto alone saw 200 children take part.”

Regeneration group chairman, Ingrid Brandon, said: “We’ve been doing it for six years and we learn a little bit every year. It’s really nice way to engage the community. Everybody pulls together, young and old alike.”

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