SANTA caused a Christmas log-jam in St Ives after a predicted 500 visitors turned into an overwhelming 3,000 to see him arrive in the harbour by RNLI lifeboat.
Children keen to see Santa discard his reindeer to make what is set to become a new St Ives tradition - the tour of the harbour in the RNLI RIB in front of adoring crowds – dragged their parents to the seafront on Friday.
And the crowds were so big that the organisers had to make a snap decision to shorten the planned parade through the town by Santa and friends.
Paul Ford from the St Ives in December team said: “We quickly had to re-arrange all the plans. It was very obvious that the intended parade round town would take over an hour to complete with so many in town to welcome him.
“Our apologies to those that didn’t get to enjoy the ‘noisy’ parade. It’s a great compliment to the December team and helpers, the police and the RNLI that we still managed to get him off the boat, along the harbour front and into his grotto.”
Crowds lined three and four deep lined the harbour to greet Santa as he arrived at the slipway.
And the streets were full of people drawn to the town to see the Christmas lights, the shops competing for this year’s Christmas window dressing competition crown, and Santa himself.
Paul said: “If we are to expect this next year we will have a very different approach to the evening to ensure that everyone in town gets to welcome him properly.
“We are already looking at the option to close the town and present a full, big evening of activity and entertainment along with late night shopping that we didn’t have this year.”
It was a good night for business with harbour front restaurants reporting their best December night for years, and it was the same story in a number of the shops open in town.
The Santa parade and light switch on are part of a programme of events orchestrated by the St Ives in December team to bring life and trade to the town in a traditionally very quiet period.
One coup this year was the deal done with local authorities and private owners on cheap parking.
Paul said: “Cars were queuing to get into the free Stennack Car Park by 10.30am on Saturday morning. Reports show that Council car parks and their ‘Pay £2 and stay all day, every day’ offer were also reaping dividends with the town enjoying a busy start the December Art/ Craft weekend.”
The Chamber of Trade and Commerce are hoping that the rest of their December programme willbe as successful.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Arrangements to dress and light the 120 trees now in place throughout the town had to be put on hold as electrical problems with weathered connections were spotted during the week.
Paul said: “If we are to expect this response to our next big weekend – the Food and Drink Festivals and Food Trails then the car parks are likely to be full again!”